Early warning system for cold-waves established in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia

WHO

Cold weather, especially extreme temperatures, can threaten health. Recognizing that the health sector must prepare for and help mitigate the adverse health effects of cold-waves, the Government of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, with WHO support, developed an action plan for prevention of the harmful effects of cold weather.

Implementation began in December 2012 with the establishment of an early warning system in which the health sector, the Hydrometeorological Institute and other organizations collaborate to ensure the timely announcement of cold-waves.

Phases of action

The system consists of five phases of action: grey (preparedness), green (vigilance), yellow (alert), orange (cold-wave) and red (extremely low temperatures). Each entails specific preventive activities to be carried out by designated experts, institutions and organizations. The system particularly emphasizes vulnerable population groups.

The action plan is designed to inform health and social care professionals and institutions, and institutions responsible for protecting people placed at risk by cold weather, including elderly people, infants and preschool children, and people with certain diseases and lower socioeconomic status. It will also raise awareness among individuals and communities on how to help themselves – and their families, friends and neighbours – avoid the problems connected to cold weather. The involvement of the mass media is crucial in this respect.

Broad societal participation

A wide variety of ministries and other institutions and organizations will carry out the action plan. These partners include: the Ministry of Health; the Public Health Institute and 10 public health centres; the Occupational Health Institute; the Crisis Management Centre; the Hydrometeorological Institute; the Directorate for Protection and Rescue; the City of Skopje (in the first phase); the ministries responsible for local self-government, education and science, transport and communication, and labour and social policy; the Macedonian Red Cross; and the mass media.

WHO support

WHO provides expert advice, technical support and guidance documents to national authorities developing and revising cold-weather plans.

WHO and Ministry of Health officials in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia will continue to work with institutions and organizations in the country to further support and monitor activities to protect public health from risks related to climate change.