Birth in a Burning World: The Intersecting Extreme Heat and Maternal Health Crises in Sindh Province, Pakistan

Nov 01, 2023
  • Description

Extreme heat worsened by climate change is deepening a maternal health crisis inPakistan already marked by high rates of maternal and newborn deaths even whencompared to most neighboring and other low-income countries.

This report provides a window into a major problem that evidence suggests is global: growing extreme heat—and the growing climate crisis more broadly—is having myriad deleterious impacts on maternal and newborn health and well-being with potentially lifelong consequences. Governments need to take urgent action to curb greenhouse gas emissions. While much can be done to reduce the harms of extreme heat including on pregnant people, there is no clear way for low-income communities to adapt their way out of burgeoning heat set to worsen without action.

This report is based on interviews with 16 women in Shikarpur District, Sindh Province, Pakistan, who were either pregnant or recently postpartum during the 2022 heatwave. We also interviewed five health providers or officials in the district. In addition, we consulted epidemiologists, doctors, and other experts in maternal health and the climate crisis, especially regarding extreme heat exposure. We also looked at epidemiological studies and other scientific findings showing links between poor maternal and newborn health and extreme heat.