NIMET warns of more hot days, warm nights, heat waves

hot-day-nigerian-heat• Experts predict epidemic of malaria, typhoid fever, others • ‘How to cope with intense heat’

With the global average air temperature of the earth hitting 1°C hotter than at the beginning of the 20th century, the Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NIMET) has warned Nigerians to brace for more hot days, warm night and heat waves.

A statement by the Head of Public Relations Unit, Eva Azinge noted that with the long residence of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, the current warming would continue beyond 2100 even when the emission of greenhouse gases is reduced.

The statement noted: “We must therefore prepare for a future with more hot days, warm nights and heat waves because of past and present emissions. This preparation will require smart adaptation strategies and engaging in climate resilient practices to cope with the damage that has been done.”

Also, a leading consultant in Public Health and Disaster Management, Dr. Priscilla Ibekwe, has, however, proffered some tips to enable people to cope with the scorching heats in parts of the country.

She told The Guardian: “The weather is unbearably hot. Excessive heat can have harmful effect on our health. It can lead to dehydration-due to excessive loss of water, among others. It can lead to heat exhaustion, heat stroke. It can also lead to death.

“The evidence about the risks to health from heat waves is extensive and consistent from around the world.

‘‘Excessive exposure to high temperatures can kill. During the summer heat wave in Northern France in August 2003, unprecedentedly high day- and night-time temperatures for a period of three weeks resulted in 15,000 excess deaths. The vast majority of these were among older people. In England that year, there were over 2,000 excess deaths over the 10-day heat wave period which lasted from 4 to 13 August 2003, compared to the previous five years over the same period.”

She regretted that Nigeria had not paid much attention to the adverse effects of heat on the health of its people.

Her words: “In the past few years, episodes of heat wave have been reported in different parts of the world, including India, African countries. It is assumed that since we are in the tropics, we are used to hot weather. Regrettably, some people die because of the excess heat but we do not know how many people have died, or had heat strokes because we do not seem to collect, collate and publish data on excess deaths during the heat wave.

“I strongly believe that one death from heat wave, is a death too many. It can be a death of a relative or friend. Governments, public and private sectors, communities and individuals, have a role to play, to reduce the risk of ill-health and death from heat waves.”

She also noted how global warming was partly contributing to the high temperatures. She urged relevant government agencies to develop a heat wave plan and disseminate it widely.

She encouraged people to eat well-balanced, light and regular meals. “Drink plenty of clean water, even if you do not feel thirsty. Your body needs water to keep cool. Reduce the intake of caffeinated or alcoholic beverages because they dehydrate the body. Seek medical advice if you or a family member has a medical condition. If you notice any change in your health, please seek medical advice immediately.”

She listed danger symptoms to watch out for in hot weather to include feeling faint and dizzy, shortness of breath, vomiting or increasing confusion.

Meanwhile, the United Nations has called for a stronger response by governments, aid organisations and the private sector to address the devastating impact the El Niño climate event is having on the food security, livelihoods, nutrition and health of millions of people around the world.

The appeal came at a meeting organised in Rome by four United Nations (UN) agencies, the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations, the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), the Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) and the World Food Programme (WFP).

Participants, including representatives from governments, non-governmental organisations and other UN agencies, took stock of the growing impacts of the current El Niño, which is considered as one of the strongest in history.

They noted that more than $2.4 billion (N480 billion) is needed for the current El Niño emergency and recovery-responses and currently there is a $1.5 billion (N300 billion) gap in funding.

According to a joint statement released yesterday by the FAO, El Niño-related impacts have been felt across the globe since mid 2015.

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