WITH temperatures in Europe hitting 40 degrees, two United Nations agencies have issued a set of guidelines on coping with the health risks associated with heatwaves. The unprecedented action follows the loss of hundreds of lives in recent weeks as a result of heatwaves in Pakistan and India. The guidelines have been jointly produced by the World Health Organisation and the World Meteorological Organisation and are called Heatwaves and Health: Guidance on Warning-System Development. It is hoped they will lead to the systematic development of heatwave early warning systems.

According to the two agencies, heatwaves are becoming more frequent and intense on a global scale, largely as a result of the acceleration of climate change. The publication’s launch follows the WMO’s recent revelation that 14 of the 15 hottest years recorded have all been in the 21st century. Another heatwave set to last at least nine days is expected to hit Spain today and then spread to France, Italy, Germany and eastern Europe, the Spanish national weather office said.

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