Фото: Бојан Блажевски

It was in 2011 when Macedonia prepared the latest National Climate Change Adaptation Strategy for the Health Sector and the corresponding Action Plan. In the meantime, the data concerning the Skopje valley provided by the National Hydrometeorological Service of North Macedonia (UHMR) are showing that 9 out of the past 10 years are among the hottest 20 years in this valley observed in the period between 1951 and 2020.

Extended heatwaves struck North Macedonia this summer and toward mid-June the Climate Coalition Network reacted that Macedonia for the last time has prepared a National Climate Change Adaptation Strategy for the Health Sector and a corresponding Action Plan for the climate change back in 2011, but its scope ended in 2015. Since then, there is no planning document for the adaptation of the health sector to climate change.

Last week, Meta.mk contacted the Public Health Institute and the Ministry of Health concerning this issue and only the ministry responded.

The Health Ministry stated that the National Climate Change Adaptation Strategy for the Health Sector and the corresponding Action Plan that were adopted in 2011 are still active.

“The aforementioned Strategy didn’t have a timespan from 2011 to 2015. Therefore it is still functional and a positive evaluation was conducted twice on part of the Ministry of Health and by international organizations”, said the Ministry of Health for Meta.mk.

They also said that the action plan within the Strategy is a valid document that is functioning very well in our country and it is implemented unlike the many other states in the region that have neither strategy nor action plans for heat and cold waves.

The Ministry of Health stated that for now there is no reason for adopting a new Strategy for adaptation of the health sector to climate change with an action plan, but it also stated that the document never became invalid and that most of the goals contained in the Strategy have been met.

Otherwise, the Strategy states that the evidence of the consequences from climate change on people’s health show that climate change has influenced the changes in the distribution of the vectors through which certain infectious diseases are being transmitted and that it has changed the seasonal distribution of certain allergenic types of pollen. Also, the number of death cases caused by extreme weather influences and heat waves has increased. A problem connected with climate change is air pollution, the increased intensity of the UV Index as well as the expected increase in the number of people that will die or will suffer diseases and injuries in floods, storms, fires, landslides, and droughts.

During this summer, Macedonia has already dealt with two extended heat waves where the second one is still ongoing and is causing problems among the population and the health sector. It starts from interventions by the Emergency services due to collapses during the high temperatures, increased difficulties and other issues among patients with cardiovascular and other diseases to people injured or killed by fires, lightning and other natural disasters.