Health – Heat alert – Is Germany sufficiently armed? – Health

Berlin (dpa) – Heat alarm again in Germany: The Federal Minister of Health warned a few days ago that there could be many deaths due to very high temperatures. Doctors ask German municipalities to provide cooling rooms such as churches – if necessary at short notice.

For the German Medical Association, future heat waves are already “the greatest challenge” for the health of people particularly at risk. According to a new survey, most people in the country are very worried. However, according to critics, things are looking bad in Germany when it comes to preparing for possible extremes on the temperature scale.

When the first weather models a few days ago indicated possible extreme temperatures in the coming week, Health Minister Karl Lauterbach (SPD) said: “This heat wave could kill many people”. Now it shouldn’t be as extremely hot and less widespread than originally expected. On Monday, the German weather service was still forecasting widespread values ​​above 30, often above 35 degrees. How do the experts assess the situation?

Prepare for the short term

“There are only a few municipalities in Germany that have a heat action plan,” the chairman of the German Medical Association’s climate change task force, Gerald Quitterer, told reporters mid-term. week. “In a few clinics there are considerations, training courses.” Most retirement homes aren’t prepared either. If “a very big heat wave” occurs, it is important “that we prepare differently in a very short time”, explains Quitterer. Claudia Traidl-Hoffmann, an environmental doctor from Augsburg, called for the development of early warning systems: “We need these early warning systems, especially for sick people.”

risk for the health

According to Traidl-Hoffmann, sick or elderly people are particularly at risk. But also children because of their reduced ability to regulate temperature. The doctor reported that people with lung disease and people who had just had a Covid infection were at particularly high heat risk. Time and time again, initially healthy people with heat stroke have ended up in the emergency room – sometimes in life-threatening condition. The cardiovascular system is in danger.

Thousands of heat deaths

According to Traidl-Hoffmann, there are also certain tipping points in the body from which heat damage is no longer reversible. “Once the tipping point is crossed, it can no longer be undone.” According to a study published earlier this month by the Robert Koch Institute, the Federal Environment Agency and the German Meteorological Service, there were around 8,700 heat-related deaths in Germany in 2018. In 2019 , there were about 6900, in 2020 about 3700 of these deaths.

Cool rooms in cities

In the event of possible spike values ​​on the thermometer, the chairman of the German Alliance for Climate Change and Health, Martin Herrmann, calls for quick action. In this way, areas could be kept ready in the municipalities where one could cool off – for example churches. Because the apartments could become “a death trap”. “You can still do all of this now if a major heat wave hits in three or four days.” The president of the Medical Association of Lower Saxony, Martina Wenker, told the “Hannoversche Allgemeine Zeitung” that cities in particular were affected by the heat. There must be some cool parts there. Municipalities should also develop plans for the care of those who are particularly affected.

Weather Service Precautions and Policy

It is important that people at risk are reached quickly by heat warnings, said Andreas Matzarakis, head of the Center for Medical and Meteorological Research at the German Meteorological Service. “My wish would be there was a treadmill heat warning on TV.” The weather service has exhausted its possibilities with its warning weather app and health weather app. The Lauterbach ministry points to the efforts made by politicians to combat the negative consequences of climate change and heat: “Adaptation to heat affects many departments”.

Health insurance requires investment

According to the Ministry of Health, many efforts are already being made to counter the effects of heat. Federated States and municipalities as well as institutional sponsors are also solicited. A federal/state working group had already developed action recommendations for local heat action plans in 2017. The head of the health insurance company KKH, Wolfgang Matz, welcomed the plans of the coalition of traffic lights for heat protection. At the same time, however, he stressed that more money was needed. Matz called for investments “to adapt our health system to the consequences of climate change”. Above all, the municipalities should be better supported.

© dpa-infocom, dpa:220715-99-33510/2

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