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Health Protection Action Alliance: Health care to become more heat-smart

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A nurse hands a glass of water to a patient in a hospital.

Hospitals and other facilities in Berlin's health system are to be better prepared for heat waves.

A new alliance for heat protection presented corresponding model plans in the capital on Monday. It is important to act quickly and do much more than before, said the President of the Berlin Medical Association, Peter Bobbert, on Monday. The alliance also includes the German Climate Change and Health Alliance (Klug) and the Senate Department for Science, Health, Care and Equality. Unfortunately, the health system in Berlin and nationwide is not yet sufficiently prepared, Bobbert said.

Warning of "health catastrophe"

The heat protection plans address different aspects: for example, training on heat-related illnesses and temperature-appropriate storage of medicines. Even "banal" things are listed, such as having enough water in the wards, said Bobbert. There are also steps that need more time, such as adapting buildings. The physician warned: "If we continue as we are, we will really end up with a health catastrophe.

Increasing heat waves likely

Berlin's health senator Ulrike Gote recalled the past heat weekend, the drought and the forest fire in neighbouring Brandenburg: "The climate crisis is a reality in Germany, it is a reality in Berlin," said the Green politician. Increasing heat waves are to be expected. Nevertheless, the aim is to ensure that cities remain places worth living in.

Heat greatest natural hazard in Germany

Few people are aware that among the natural hazards that cause deaths in Germany, heat is by far the top one, said Klug CEO Martin Herrmann. He referred to data from the German Committee for Disaster Reduction, which assigned 96 per cent of them to the extreme heat category between 1990 and 2020.

Elderly and previously ill people particularly at risk

The deaths from heat are silent deaths, the connections are complex, Herrmann said. And he conceded: "The plans alone will not save any people. What is needed, he said, is for actors to take responsibility together. "It is no longer acceptable that we go into great danger unprepared." According to Bobbert, heat is a concrete danger for people with pre-existing conditions, pregnant women, young children and people working outdoors. For the elderly and pre-existing conditions, and especially for those of them who live alone, "heat waves are life-threatening."

Author: dpa/
Publication date: 20 June 2022
Last updated: 20 June 2022

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