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WHO Speaks Out On Effect of Extreme Temperatures

by Marcellin Gasana
9:30 pm

The World Health Organization 2024 report indicates that more than 166 000 people died due to extreme temperatures in nearly the last three decades.

Heatwaves, or heat and hot weather which can go up to 50 degree Celsius lasting for several days, can have a significant impact on society, including a rise in heat-related deaths.

Heatwaves are among the most dangerous of natural hazards, but rarely receive adequate attention because their death tolls and destruction are not always immediately obvious. From 1998-2017, more than 166 000 people died due to heatwaves, including more than 70 000 who died during the 2003 heatwave in Europe.

Population exposure to heat is increasing due to climate change. Globally, extreme temperature events are observed to be increasing in their frequency, duration, and magnitude. Between 2000 and 2016, the number of people exposed to heatwaves increased by around 125 million.

Heatwaves can lead to several illnesses, including exhaustion, heatstrokes and even death.

Increased intensity of heatwaves has been linked to cardiovascular and respiratory diseases. Those who remain most vulnerable to scorching temperatures are outdoor workers, the elderly, and children.

While the effects of heat may be exacerbated in cities, due to the urban heat island (UHI) effect, the livelihoods and wellbeing of non-urban communities can also be severely disrupted during and after periods of unusually hot weather.

Heatwaves can burden health and emergency services and also increase strain on water, energy and transportation resulting in power shortages or even blackouts. Food and livelihood security may also be strained if people lose their crops or livestock due to extreme heat.

According to the latest Rwanda meteorology agency weather  forecast, Rwanda will record slightly higher temperature this dry season-between 22-32 degrees compared to 22-32 degrees in the past.

Meteo however does not count this among the excessive temperature.

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