New consortium aims to address the effects of heat exposure on maternal, newborn and child health

A new consortium involving the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) has launched to address critical knowledge gaps regarding the quantification and monitoring of direct and indirect effects of heat exposure on maternal, newborn and child health .

LSHTM was awarded £1.7 million by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) as part of €10 million in funding from the European Union (EU). The LSHTM research team will work closely with the World Health Organization and the European Union and eight other partners in sub-Saharan Africa: Université Ghent, Belgium; Wits Health Consortium (Pty) Ltd., South Africa; Center for Sexual Health and HIV and AIDS Research, Zimbabwe; Aga Khan Health Services Kenya LBG, Kenya; Lunds University, Sweden; Karolinska Institute, Sweden; Danmarks Technische University, Denmark; and Graz University, Austria.

Climate, COVID-19 and conflict, labeled the “3 Cs”, were recently cited as major obstacles to reaching the Sustainable Development Goals at the World Health Summit in Berlin. Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organisation, said that “the climate crisis remains perhaps the biggest and most complex existential challenge of our time, requiring unparalleled action. A warming world in general is bad for health “. Our High Horizons research examining the impacts of heat on mothers, newborns and children in Europe and Africa, as well as ways to adapt and reduce these heat impacts, to allow us to meet the SDGs for women and children Important science.

Professor Debra Jackson, Takeda Chair in Global Child Health and MARCH Deputy Director

The Heat Indicators for Global Health (High Horizons) project focuses on pregnant and postpartum women, infants and health workers, three groups most affected by the climate crisis.

LSHTM researchers will lead the evaluation of indicators to quantify and monitor the global, EU and national level health impacts of extreme heat at the population level.

The LSHTM team will also evaluate the effectiveness of an early warning system designed to provide personalized heat stress warnings and locally customized messages to protect pregnant and postpartum women, infants and health workers through a smartphone app.

600 mothers and 60 health workers will be recruited in Sweden, South Africa and Zimbabwe to use the app. LSHTM’s research team will assess the adoption of behaviors promoted through early warning system messages and the use of highlighted community resources. Its cost-effectiveness will also be evaluated.

In addition, LSHTM researchers will identify cost-effective integrated adaptation-mitigation interventions designed to reduce heat exposure on health workers and carbon emissions associated with health care facilities in Sweden, South Africa and Zimbabwe.

Adaptation interventions are designed to reduce heat within health care facilities and may include the use of fans or air conditioners. Mitigation interventions are designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from facilities and may include reducing emissions from solar panels or waste.

There will also be activities to document the effects of heat exposure on the health, wellbeing and productivity of healthcare workers. Understanding these effects within maternal, neonatal and child health settings is critical to ensuring the delivery of high quality health care.

Véronique Philippe, Professor of Maternal Health and Epidemiology at LSHTM, said: “Climate change could undo the progress made in maternal and newborn survival over the past 20 years. There is growing epidemiological evidence that action is needed. Time is right.” There is a high risk of preterm birth. For example among women exposed to heatwaves. How to work is complex. We do not yet have specifics for the needs of pregnant women and babies, and health providers working in the maternity unit. interventions. High Horizon will respond to urgent development needs and test climate change adaptation interventions relevant to maternal and newborn health.”

The High Horizons project will be completed over four years from 2022 to 2026.


London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine


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