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Understanding how climate change will affect maternal and neonatal health in sub-Saharan Africa.

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CHAMNHA is a three-year inter-disciplinary research project funded by the Belmont Forum that will quantify the risks from heat on maternal and neonatal health, document behaviour and develop interventions to reduce the impact of current climate risks and future climate change. The consortium includes research partners in the UK, Burkina Faso, Kenya, South Africa, Sweden, Norway, and the US.


The CHAMNHA research programme has five research streams to develop evidence on the management of heatwaves and for adaptation in health systems in sub-Saharan Africa. The research will focus on the development of low-cost interventions to reduce the burden of heat-related conditions on maternal and newborn health.

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About us
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Project rationale

Heatwaves are expected to increase in number and intensity in the coming years due to climate change. African countries are likely to be particularly affected by the health impacts of heatwaves.

The following videos were created by our colleagues from Institut de Recherche en Sciences de la Santé (IRSS), Burkina Faso, and from Aga Khan University, Kenya.

CHAMNHA - video by IRSS Team, Burkina Faso:

Climate Heat Maternal and Neonatal Health Africa (CHAMNHA) consortium/ Kenya:

Too Hot To Thrive, by Aga Khan University Team, Kenya:

Vision and activities

CHAMNHA will generate new knowledge on protecting the health of mothers and babies from extreme temperature. The CHAMNHA project will quantify the burden of disease resulting from heat stress during pregnancy and in the neonatal period; generate evidence on effective, acceptable and feasible heat interventions; and facilitate adaptation planning to improve preparedness and reduce the impacts of extreme heat on Maternal and Neonatal health (MNH) in sub-Saharan Africa.

The project has five work streams.


ENBEL (Enhancing Belmont Research Action to support EU policy making on climate change and health).

The CHAMNHA project is part of ENBEL which will help us engage with stakeholders and disseminate our results.

Who we are
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Hands of mother on sleeping newborn

London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, United Kingdom 

University of Witwatersrand, South Africa

Environment and Health Governance Centre, Africa International University, Kenya

Institut de Recherche en Sciences de la Santé (IRSS), Burkina Faso

Karolinska Institutet, Sweden

South African Medical Research Council, South Africa

University of Leeds, United Kingdom

University of Oslo, Norway

University of Washington, United States of America

Research CHAMNHA 2 columns
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Epidemiological analyses

We are undertaking systematic reviews and secondary analyses of survey and health data to quantify the impact of high temperature on adverse maternal and newborn outcomes, and to investigate the factors that affect these risks.

We have three main research questions:

  • What are the impacts of extreme hot weather on maternal, perinatal, and newborn health outcomes?
  • Is there a threshold above which action should be taken to protect maternal and newborn health?
  • Do certain maternal characteristics or comorbidities increase risk of adverse maternal outcomes during exposure to extreme heat?

Our initial secondary data analyses include:

  • A ground-breaking analysis of the relationship between heat stress and preterm birth using longitudinal data from the Swedish Pregnancy Register, the Swedish National Patient Register, and Statistics Sweden, and geocoded data on temperature and air pollution. In this cohort study we will test different case definitions for heat stress using data available on temperature and investigate the short term, longer term and medium terms effects of heat stress on preterm births
  • Using a data from a cohort of approximately 830 pregnant or postpartum women in Burkina Faso, an analysis of the relationship between extreme temperature and women’s activities patterns, maternal mental health, maternal functioning, hypertension and breastfeeding practices
  • Using meteorological and medical data on 59000 deliveries from South Africa, an investigation of the effects of high temperature, for different time lags, on a broad range of health outcomes including duration of labour, maternal infections, eclampsia/pre-eclampsia, and newborn dehydration.

We are looking for new datasets and collaboration. Please contact us if you have a suitable dataset for this type of analysis.


Associations between high temperatures in pregnancy and risk of preterm birth, low birth weight, and stillbirths: systematic review and meta-analysis.

Chersich MF, Pham MD, Areal A, Haghighi MM, Manyuchi A, Swift CP, Wernecke B, Robinson M, Hetem R, Boeckmann M, Hajat S; Climate Change and Heat-Health Study Group. BMJ. 2020; 371:m3811.

Qualitative studies of heat and behaviour
Front of Kaya Maternity Unit, Kaya, Burkina Faso

In the first year of CHAMNHA, we will be carrying out parallel qualitative studies in Burkina Faso and Kenya to examine how exposure to extreme heat during pregnancy and in the postpartum is viewed by a range of stakeholders, and the extent to which they view it as a priority for intervention. Using a combination if individual in-depth interviews, key informant interviews, and focus group discussions, these studies will engage with pregnant and postpartum women, elderly female relatives, male partners, healthcare workers, government representatives and community leaders, among others. We will ask how women identify discomfort from heat in their neonates, understand their neonate’s fluid and nutritional needs, and formulate strategies to cool them down. We will also explore women’s own cooling behaviours and general resilience to heat stress.

In Burkina Faso, we are particularly interested to document how heat stress affects women’s utilisation of antenatal care and postnatal care, and how the health system copes with demand during periods of extreme heat, when power outages are more common. Using a co-design approach involving potential beneficiaries and local stakeholders, we will identify feasible and acceptable facility-based heat-health interventions to reduce the risk of heat stress for pregnant and postpartum women, including interventions to ease breastfeeding and the health of the neonates.

In Kenya, the co-design process will focus on identifying potential community-based interventions that may help to shore up resilience to heat stress for this population, such as the creation of cooler spaces in the community for pregnant women to use, and the use of existing Community Health Volunteers to monitor heat stress and disseminate heat ‘alerts’ to pregnant, postpartum women and neonates.

Implementation and evaluation

Interventions will be developed through co-design with local stakeholders.

Intervention in Burking Faso will focus on the clinical settings. Interventions in Kenya will focus on dwellings and women giving birth at home.

Climate services
Tsangatsini Dispensary Maternity Unit, Kenya

Annual and seasonal temperatures are increasing across the African continent. We are analysing present-day extreme temperature events over sub-Saharan Africa and projecting their change through to 2050. We are linking changes in the climate to Maternal and Neonatal Health risks.

We are investigating which heat metrics are most relevant to capture health-related risks in sub-Saharan Africa. We are using a range of observational datasets and climate model projections to provide a range of plausible scenarios for future increases in temperature extremes.

Climate research in Africa

Climate change adaptation planning

There are a range of intervention strategies to reduce the impact of heat risks and these need to be incorporated within national adaptation planning for climate change. We are undertaking research to understand how to improve decision-making on heat-health risks.

Publications List
Process and outputs from a community codesign workshop on reducing impact of heat exposure on pregnant and postpartum women and newborns in Kilifi, Kenya
Lusambili A, Khaemba P, Agoi F, Oguna M, Nakstad B, Scorgie F, Filippi V, Hess J, Roos N, Chersich M, Kovats S, Luchters S
Frontiers in Public Health. 31;11:1146048
“Mothers get really exhausted!” The lived experience of pregnancy in extreme heat: qualitative findings from Kilifi, Kenya
Scorgie F, Lusambili A, Luchter S, Khaemba P, Filippi V, Nakstad B, Hess J, Birch C, Kovats S, Chersich M
Social Science and Medicine, 335:116223. PMID: 37725839
Awareness and interventions to reduce dehydration in pregnant, postpartum women, and newborns in rural Kenya
Lusambili A, Nakstad B
African Journal of Primary Health Care & Family Medicine. 15(1),a3991
An expert review of environmental heat exposure and stillbirth in the face of climate change: clinical implications and priority issues
BONELL, A; Part, C; Okomo, U; Cole, R; Hajat, S; Kovats, S; Sferruzzi-Perri, A; Hirst, J;
Authorea Preprints
How do high ambient temperatures affect infant feeding practices? A prospective cohort study of postpartum women in Bobo-Dioulasso, Burkina Faso
Part C, Filippi V, Cresswell JA, Ganaba R, Hajat S, Nakstad B, Roos N, Kadio K, Chersich M, Lusambili A, Kouanda S, Kovats S
BMJ Open. 5;12(10):e061297. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2022-061297.
Effect of High and Low Ambient Temperature on Infant Health: A Systematic Review
Lakhoo DP, Blake HA, Chersich MF, Nakstad B, Kovats S
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2022, 19, 9109
Past and projected climate change impacts on heat-related child mortality in Africa
Chapman S, Birch CE, Marsham JH, Part C, Hajat S, Chersich MF, Ebi KL, Luchters SMF, Nakstad B, Kovats S
Environ. Res. Lett. 17 (2022) 074028
How climate change may threaten progress in neonatal health in the African region
Nakstad B, Fillippi V, Lusambili A, Roos N, Scorgie F, Chersich MF, Luchters SL, Kovats S
Neonatology. 2022 Jul 18; 1-8.
Associations between ambient temperature and risk of preterm birth in Sweden: A comparison of analytical approaches
de Bont J, Stafoggia M, Nakstad B, Hajat S, Kovats S, Part C, Chersich M, Luchters S, Filippi V, Stephansson O, Ljungman P, Roos N.
Environmental Research 213 (2022) 113586
Ambient temperature during pregnancy and risk of maternal hypertensive disorders: A time-to-event study in Johannesburg, South Africa
Part C, le Roux J, Chersich M, Sawry S, Filippi V, Roos N, Fairlie L, Nakstad B, de Bont J, Ljungman P, Stafoggia M, Kovats S, Luchters S, Hajat S.
Environmental Research 212 (2022) 113596
Physiological mechanisms of the impact of heat during pregnancy and the clinical implications: review of the evidence from an expert group meeting
Samuels L, Nakstad B, Roos N, Bonell A, Chersich M, Havenith G, Luchters S, Day LT, Hirst JE, Singh T, Elliott-Sale K, Hetem R, Part C, Sawry S, Le Roux J, Kovats S.
Int J Biometeorol 66, 1505-1513 (2022)
Impacts of High Environmental Temperatures on Congenital Anomalies: A Systematic Review
Haghghi MM, Wright CY, Ayer J, Urban MF, Pham MD, Boeckmann M, Areal A, Wernecke B, Swift CP, Robinson M, Hetem RS, Chersich MF, and Climate Change and Heat-Health Study Group
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(9), 4910
Maternal and newborn health risks of climate change: A call for awareness and global action
Nathalie Roos,Sari Kovats, Shakoor Hajat, Veronique Filippi, Matthew Chersich, Stanley Luchters, Fiona Scorgie, Britt Nakstad, Olof Stephansson, CHAMNHA Consortium.
Acta Obstet Gynecol Scand. 2021;100:566–570
Associations between high temperatures in pregnancy and risk of preterm birth, low birth weight, and stillbirths: systematic review and meta-analysis
Chersich MF, Pham MD, Areal A, Haghighi MM, Manyuchi A, Swift CP, Wernecke B, Robinson M, Hetem R, Boeckmann M, Hajat S; Climate Change and Heat-Health Study Group.
BMJ 2020; 371:m3811