This case study will assess the health systems’ preparedness and response plans. However, it will do so taking into account the country’s actual historical hazards occurrence and impacts, pan-European cooperation, and collaboration with civil society and private partners. A standardised method will be used to assess preparedness that will include a Delphi-based component to elicit the input from national and international experts.
In the summer of 2003, Europe was hit by an extreme drought and heat wave with severe consequences. The warm period began in June and continued through August, when the temperature was 20 to 30 % higher than the seasonal average across a large area of the continent. Temperatures of 35 to 40 °C were recorded in a number of European countries and resulted in more than 30,000 people dying due to this the extreme heat. Among all countries, France reported the highest number of casualties reaching approximately 14,000.
Apart from the loss of lives, the disaster had economic and environmental effects such as destruction of large areas of forests by fire and effects on water ecosystems causing power cuts, transport restrictions and decreased agricultural production. Estimated losses accounted to approximately €13 billion.
Preparedness and response to future events
From this event, Europe emerges as a geographic area responsive to high temperature and, due to climate change, a further increase in frequency, intensity and duration of heat waves is predicted. Therefore, a growing need to improve governance mechanisms, such as revisited health partnerships, is needed to support risk reduction activities to extreme period events.
Through existing examples of multi-sector partnerships in health in a number of selected countries, the ENHANCE partners will propose a tool to increase health resilience to extreme heat events.
The scope of activities includes:
• Analysing the different partnership roles to identify good practices on how to better integrate a range of actors within the topic of extreme heat events and health in a number of selected countries;
• Tackling already identified gaps such as the need to improve cooperation between health and social care actors;
• Development of improved hazard and risk assessment information;
• Overall, the project responds to the need to qualify and characterise the burden of heat-related human health problems with specific information on morbidity and past mortality cases, and then feed this critical information into multi-sector partnerships to improve heat planning and risk reduction activities in Europe.
State of play
ENHANCE partners have identified and focus on three locations within the case study:
- Amsterdam (NL);
- Brussels (BE);
- London (UK).
In each location, they undertake interviews with persons involved in extreme heat events and health, and carry out an epidemiological study on the relationship between extreme heat and morbidity.
In the case of Amsterdam, the interviews have been finalised. For the other locations, first contact has been made with key experts. In addition, first ideas for epidemiological studies have been discussed with local experts.
The objectives of this case study are to examine health sector plans that address preparedness and response to heat-waves, and to reach a consensus on the prioritisation of health interventions for heatwaves. Comparisons of preparedness and response plans of countries that have similar heat-wave profiles will be carried out with the objective of identifying their respective strengths and weaknesses. In particular the role that MSPs play and how integrated they are in response plans for the health sector will be assessed, and cross-border cooperation and coordination mechanisms will be appraised.
The total time period for the ENHANCE project encompasses 48 months (month 1: December 2012). The time frame necessary to complete the deliverables within the case study is:
D1. Report: Month 12
D2. Report: Month 17
D3. Report & Database: Month 27
D4. Report: Month 36
D5. Report: Month 39
Five deliverables are formulated by the case study:
D1. Report: Risk profile case study using conceptual framework
D2. Report: Stakeholders analyses and MSP
D3. Report & Database: Risk Assessment results
D4. Report: Description of MSPs and disaster resilience schemes
D5. Report: Case study synthesis and policy recommendations
World Health Organisation (WHO) Europe (Bonn), European Environmental Agency (EEA), Civil protection or other disaster response agencies • Decision makers related to health policies, managers of health structures, Members of confederations representing relevant private partners
Listen to the interview with Dr van Loenhout on how the ENHANCE project has been working to increase health resilience to extreme heat events.