Heatwave mortality set to rise


  • Mary Corcoran
  • Univadis Medical News
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Researchers have warned that heatwave-related excess mortality is likely to increase steadily if people cannot adapt to future climate change. 

As part of a new study published in PLoS Medicine, the researchers developed a model to estimate the number of deaths related to heatwaves in 412 communities across 20 countries under several global climate change scenarios. They found if people cannot adapt to future climate temperatures, deaths caused by severe heatwaves will increase dramatically in tropical and subtropical regions, followed closely by Australia, Europe and the United States. 

“Future heatwaves, in particular, will be more frequent, more intense and will last much longer,” said author Associate Professor Yuming Guo. If we cannot find a way to mitigate the climate change and help people adapt to heatwaves, there will be a big increase of heatwave-related deaths in the future, particularly in the poor countries located around the equator.”

The authors said they hoped the findings would support decision-makers in planning crucial adaptation and mitigation strategies for climate change including improving health services. 

The publication of the study comes just days after the World Health Organization issued advice on keeping cool in hot weather, as several countries experience record high temperatures.