The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia takes action to protect health from climate change

In 2007, a heat-wave was estimated to have caused in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia more than 1000 excess deaths during the summer period. The country is projected to experience an overall increase in temperature, more frequent and more intense heat-waves and more droughts and flood events in relation to global climate change. Expected health effects associated with these changes include increases in heat-related mortality (from cardiovascular and respiratory diseases), changes in the distribution of infectious diseases and allergic disorders, risk of appearance of tropical infectious diseases as well as foodborne disease outbreaks.

An integrated response

To safeguard the health of its citizens from such risks, the Macedonian Government adopted earlier in 2011 a national health adaptation strategy to climate change and action plan, and established a national heat-health action plan to prevent and cope with the health effects of heat-waves.

  • The strategy provides a framework for the health system to prevent existing and future health risks associated with climate change. Actions proposed range from setting up an intersectoral body for cooperation and coordination to education and provision of regular information to the public and health professionals, early warning for heat-waves, fires and droughts, and reduction of urban air pollution, allergic disorders and infectious diseases. Cooperation with other sectors, such as for example energy, industry, education, etc, is crucial.
  • The heat-health action plan was adopted by the Government in 2011 and is now fully established, following the successful piloting of specific heat-protection actions in summer 2010. These included the set up of a responsible body, a 24-48 hour heat early warning, specific thresholds for action, and priorities for vulnerable populations, workers’ health and communication.

The strategy and its action plan were developed by the Ministry of Health with guidance from WHO/Europe as part of the project “Protecting health from climate change – A seven country initiative”, implemented with financial support from the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety.