Dedicating Earth Day to Mothers

Making the connection between Mother Earth and maternal health on Earth Day.

On this day when we honor Mother Earth, we’ll be thinking about recycling, water conservation and sustainable energy. We will also be thinking about mothers in developing countries who lack access to clean water or are starving because of drought brought on by climate change. We will think of the mothers who delivered on church benches when Typhoon Haiyan hit the Philippines and destroyed homes and hospitals. Earth Day is more than a one-day event where we remind ourselves that we only have one planet. It’s an opportunity to connect the dots between the way we treat Mother Earth and the way we treat mothers around the world.

A report published by Global Health Action, titled, Climate change and the potential effects on maternal and pregnancy outcomes: an assessment of the most vulnerable — the mother, fetus, and newborn child, discusses research conducted by The Lancet Commission that identifies the many ways climate change directly impacts the health, security and livelihoods of mothers, especially in poor countries. They include: lack of food and safe drinking water, poor sanitation, population migration, changing disease patterns and morbidity, more frequent extreme weather events, and lack of shelter. They discuss increases in tropical diseases and heat exposure, malnutrition, infectious diseases and a host of related complications including miscarriage, premature contractions, low birth weight babies, premature delivery, and increased neonatal mortality.

As we focus our attention today on the countless ways we can improve our personal and civic habits to improve the health of our environment, let’s also focus on mothers like those Robin Lim blogged about in the wake of Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda). Let’s think of these mothers as we talk about paper versus plastic, recycling and composting and let’s remember — climate change affects all of us.

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