Earlier this year, we ran a series of posts exploring the relationship between water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) and maternal health. A new paper (gated) published in Current Opinions on Environmental Sustainability by Susan Watt and Jean Chamberlain delves into the impact of water and climate change on maternal and newborn health. The authors conclude:
There is a clear need for research on the complexity of the relationships between climate change, water, and maternal and newborn health. There is also a need to explore how any changes in these components may have profound consequences on these relationships. Researchers must not assume that climate change and water-related health issues are gender neutral, especially in relational to maternal and newborn health. Policy makers need to be aware of water and climate change as important social determinants of the health of mothers and newborns.
The responsibility for these refocused approaches to research lies not only with water and climate researchers but also with health researchers who must take water and climate change into consideration in evaluating maternal and newborn health. Disaggregation of health data is required to tease out the differential impact of climate change and water on vulnerable groups. Policies must take into account the importance of clean water availability on the health of women and children.