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Increased salinity and coastal women’s health crisis

Climate change affects the lives of both men and women. However, due to climate change, it is becoming increasingly harder for coastal women to ensure reproductive health, social mobility and domestic violence free life.

In recent years, flooding, storm floods, twisters, and dry spells have frequently assaulted Bangladesh, causing extensive damage. The nation has an almost unmatched weakness to environmental change – and as in any emergency, women and kids remain the most in danger. Bangladesh is the seventh most vulnerable country to climate change, according to Germanwatch's Global Climate Risk Index (CRI) 2021. Simply, it propagated weakness to environmental change-instigated events, a universally perceived account. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) predicts that Bangladesh will lose 17 percent of its land and 30 percent of its food production by 2050. As a result, many international newspapers refer to Bangladesh as the "climate change ground zero" or "disaster laboratory."

As a result of climate change and the excessive saline of the country's coastal regions, more women in these areas suffer from uterine-related illnesses. It has been reported that uterine diseases in women are more severe in villages prone to salinity. Because of the prevalence of uterine-related disorders, doctors are recommending uterus abscission for women in nearly every village in the Shyamnagar Upazila. Consequently, women in this region are losing their uterus at an early age. Women with uterine illnesses can be found in nearly every union of the many upazilas in the coastal region of Satkhira. After total uterine removal, many husbands leave their wives and marry elsewhere.

Statistically, a significant proportion of coastal women in Bangladesh are at increased risk of cervical cancer. Due to the usage of saline water for daily household tasks such as bathing, agricultural work, cattle rearing, shrimp hatching, and other economic activities, leucorrhoea and skin illnesses are more prevalent in women. According to ICDDRB, the amount of salt ingested through food and water in coastal areas causes more miscarriages than in other parts of the country. In 2018, a study titled "Effect of salinity on the prevalence of infectious diseases" found that women and adolescents in coastal locations have a higher incidence of uterine illnesses as a result of washing and reusing menstrual-related clothing, as well as daily activities such as bathing in salt water.

The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends – a person should not ingest more than 5 grams of salt each day. However, residents of coastal regions must consume more than 16 grams of salt per day, which is many times more than the national average. Studies state that excessive use of salty water increased the incidence of uterine disorders, high blood pressure, pregnancy convulsions, abortion, and even premature birth. According to public health experts, excessive usage of salty water in coastal areas is increasing the rate of abortion among women owing to climate change. It also one of the major causes of leucorrhea, as coastal people usually use filthy and excessively salty water for their daily activities such as drinking and bathing.

Climate change has caused health and economic concerns for coastal women, thus the government has prioritized clean water and sustainable livelihoods. The government implements these programs directly and through private and volunteer groups. Many international organizations are also working here to mitigate the crisis. The coastal population's participation is crucial to the government's program's success. Any program's success depends on the local population's participation and awareness. Mass media has crucial role in increasing local engagement and understanding. Online social media and community media shape public opinion. In short, collaborate works effectively influence public perceptions about climate change crisis.

Author: Reneka Ahmed Antu, Young Volunteer.

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