Tuesday 22 October, 2019

Health Ministry to develop heat wave plan

As a matter of urgency, officials within the Ministry of Health will be formulating an action plan to deal with heat waves expected to affect Barbados. 

A statement from the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) warned the region must prepare for extreme temperatures, in view of the current heatwaves in Europe and predictions that this phenomenon will hit various parts of the Americas. The statement said the heat waves could lead to drought-induced stress, forest fires and have harmful effects on human health.  

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Health Minister, Lieutenant Colonel Jeffrey Bostic told reporters today he had not been made aware of the information from PAHO and Ministry officials would now need to go to the drawing board to develop a detailed plan in the event that temperatures do reach life-threatening levels. 

“I am going to meet with my technical team tomorrow so that we can look at it and we will have to plan exactly how we are going to respond to that but I could not say at this point in time because it is not something we had discussed prior to the release of that report.” 

Acknowledging the possibility of Barbadians suffering heat strokes and loss of life, the Minister said details would be forthcoming in days.  

“I can assure you that in a day or two, we certainly will have a response, because we must.” 

Over in Jamaica, temperatures soared to record levels last month with the capital city, Kingston, hitting a sizzling 39.1 degrees Celsius - the highest temperature ever recorded.  

Barbados has not been exempted from the scorching temperatures. On May 28 of this year, the island recorded an apparent temperature of 35 degrees Celsius, while recording an extreme apparent temperature high of 36 degrees Celsius on May 12 and May 16.  

At the time, the Barbados Meteorological Services warned the situation could worsen.  

PAHO has developed a guide to help countries in the region formulate contingency plans to address heatwaves, especially for the sick, elderly and small children.  

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