By Tunde Jejeloye
Undoubtedly, as the dry season lasts, many people battle with the effects of the excessive heat in their day to day activities. The struggle however does not end at having to sweat all day.Â ThereÂ has been news of heat related illnesses like meningitis amongst others. Not long ago, there was a case ofÂ casualties of meningitis in some States in the Northern part of the country.
Mitigating the heat scourge is one area the authorities need to look into as the state of electricity supply is yet to be improved. Although some Nigerians may have increased the number of times they take their baths, Critical Health watchers are saying that government has a role to play concerning the global warming challenge.
Good Health Weekly last week sought the views of a Consultant Public Health Physicians from the Department ofÂ Community Health Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH), Dr. Clement Duro Dolapo.Â According to him, the intense heat may be as a result of the global warming and the only way out for individuals, c
ommunities and governments to join hands and reduce activities that promote excessive heat.
Do you agree that there isÂ excessive heat and how have you been coping?
There is excessive heat because there are increases in the average temperature of the atmosphere.Â Like any other person, I have been coping.Â We all know that we have problems with electricity and we have continued to lookÂ for alternatives because with the look ofÂ things, I do not think any person can sleep well without a fan or an air-conditioner.Â People are now using inverters to supplement the electricity.Â Donâ€™t forget, Lagos is densely populated. No ventilation.Â Besides, Lagos is close to the Atlantic Ocean and high humidity contributes to the heat.
Most of these things like inverter and generator, how safe are they, health wise?
Well, inverters do not contribute much to excessive heat but generators do.Â Sincerely, what generates the heat are human activities, particularly, in industrial areas where carbon dioxide is generated.Â This is the major cause of global warming.Â Generators contribute to excessive heat but because there is no electricity, in this country people tend to improvise.
Again, by using generators, you contribute to excessive heat.Â I believe the government has a role to play here, particularly in the provision of electricity because citizens have to survive. In trying to survive, there is duplication of efforts and pollution, which will add more to the problem and it would now become a vicious cycle. Mind you, a generator set produces carbon dioxide and heat which contribute to global warming (increase in temperature).
What are the implications of excessive heat on the health of Nigerians?
The implications are enormous and can beÂ divided into three aspects. First, there are the direct effects of the heat on peopleâ€™s health. These include; heat strokes, stress, heat burns, someone can even collapse while walking, psychological stress. Excessive heat also contributes to high blood pressure.Â There are some diseases that are due to effects of excessive heat on the environment.
These diseases are numerous. Increase in temperature causes excessive floods.Â Whenever there is flooding, there will be contamination ofÂ water, food and land.Â There will also be infections like diarrhea and cholera.Â The quality of water reduces and there will be pollution and breeding of pest and insect that transmits diseases.Â Increase in temperature favours malaria and many virus infections. It also affects food production.
This is because there will be increases in desertification and when this reduces food production, there will be malnutrition. Malnutrition precipitates many diseases of children like chest pain, measles amongst others. All forms of diseases are triggered by excessive heat. Psychologically; people are also affected as a result of all that I have mentioned above.Â Human health is affected and health is not only the physical, but, social and psychological and mental well being.
What are these excessive heat illnesses?
The direct effects are heat stroke and psychological stress.Â Most of the effects are indirect.Â One of the indirect effects is that temperature is high and most of the vectors that carry diseases breed very well.
Excessive heat favours the parasite that is in a mosquito and other vector borne diseases. Diseases like cholera, lassa fever and many more are indirect effects of this excessive heat.Â The indirect effects are worst than direct effects.
It even affects the quality of air you are breathing right now.Â Â A lot of people that have strokes may not be as a result of excessive heat but it usually contributes in most cases.
Blood pressure also rises when someone is psychologically stressed and heat can cause and promote hypertension.Â But as I have said earlier, the indirect effects are numerous. Apart from this, malaria remains the greatest killer of children and pregnant women and excessive heat is indirectly responsible.Â And as far as malaria is concerned, environmental factors are the major issue.
Does excessive heat have effect on drugs administration and performance?
Yes it has. There are some drugs that are to be stored at a normal temperature, some are to be in the refrigerators and some are to be frozen.Â Most of our drugs are to be stored at normal temperature but this normal temperature is becoming abnormal because of excessive heat.
After a while, some of these drugs that should have a life span of about three years, once the projected temperature is not normal, you will discover that the drugs will spoil within a short time.Â When you constitute a drug to administer, when the heat is much, it can destroy this drug.Â Even the way the body handles the drugs and the drugs affect the body is affected by temperature variation in the body.
How can excessive heat be prevented?
There are different measures, individual, community and government levels.
At the Government level, the Government should have policy to make sure that those factors contributing to excessive heat should stop.Â Carbon dioxide is the major gas that is tapping the heat and government should put policies in place to discourage it and at the same time provide enabling environment. Solar energy should be encouraged by the government because it will not release much heat and carbon into the atmosphere. This will certainly reduce excessive heat.
At the community level, there is need to follow the housing codes so that there will be cross ventilation.
The location of your building and the number of houses that will be in those locations should be such that, it will promote cross ventilation.
The community members must help government so that people will follow the right way of doing things. At the individual level; our lifeâ€™s style is important.
Planting of trees should be an individual responsibilityÂ because everyone contributes to excessive heat. TreesÂ will mop out carbon dioxide and we should discourage the use of solid fuels and encourage the use of gas.Â Â Instead of using the normal bulbs, you can use the energy saving bulbs â€“ it saves power and generate less heat.