Palpable climate change has variously manifested in the forms of rising hot weather, increased heat wave and the ailments associated with it. Though we are in a season of the year when hot weather, dry conditions and dusty environment make life uncomfortable, but the surge in rusty weather has engendered dehydration, heat rashes and respiratory ailments in people.
According to the Nigerian Meteorological Agency, NIMET, the unfavourable weather conditions are largely due to the increasing global greenhouse emission, leading to an increase in the global average air temperature of the earth by 1°C and thus making it hotter than it was at the start of the 20th century. The current atmospheric warming, NIMET reveals, will continue beyond 2100.
Literarily, hot weather has led to rise in temperature and humidity, especially in the northern parts of Nigeria, which are usually haven for humid temperature.
Last March during the 2016 World Meteorological Day, with the theme, ‘Hotter, Drier, Wetter, Face the Future,’ meteorologists and healthcare experts had warned that global warming may cause the spread of deadly hot-weather diseases that could result in many people requiring medical attention.
Further, they had warned that warmer temperatures, which is a feature of climate change, along with more extreme hot weather that engenders drought and heavy rainfall could have their greatest impact on diseases spread by insects, rodents and other animals.
Besides, it could also cause serious danger to human beings, including Albinos. People with respiratory illnesses are equally vulnerable especially in situations where temperatures can rise to as high as 40C.
Most worrisome about this weather is the outbreak of diseases that affect children and elderly people; as the body temperature increases, the body tries to maintain its normal temperature by transferring heat sweating and blood flow to the skin (Thermoregulation) which helps us keep our bodies cool, NIMET had warned.
The situation in some hospitals across the country where thousands of patients are being treated for heat stroke and exhaustion attests to the authenticity of experts’ warning on the consequences of the increasing heat wave.
Only recently, the ‘mysterious’ disease, which killed over 20 children in Eti-Osa area of Lagos State, was later discovered to be measles and meningitis. Both are caused by serious heat and high humidity temperature in the atmosphere.
The ‘strange’ killer disease did not only ravage Lagos, but it equally attacked people in Benue, Niger, Sokoto, Kano, Katsina, and Kebbi States among others, except that the mystery was unravelled and attended to medically.
However, rather than abate, heat wave has increased in intensity with its attendant dangerous repercussions on the health of unsuspecting citizenries, especially those who have tended to attribute spiritual reasons to the resurgent bodily rashes, persistent dehydration and other weather-related ailments.
Undoubtedly, human misadventure, greed and failure to adhere to basic environmental healthcare policies have been responsible for warming of the atmosphere and the ocean, changes in the global water cycle, reductions in snow and ice, global mean sea level rise, and changes in some climate extremes.
Clearly, the problem is neither localised nor peculiar to Nigeria, as only recently in Cape Town, South Africa, 11 people died of heat stroke, with a loss of $269 million due to severe drought in the country. Spain, France, the USA and others have reported severe heat wave problems.
Interestingly, NIMET director general says there is nothing strange about the development, pointing out that the season is transitory from the harmattan to rainy season and so, it is not abnormal to have February, March and April to be hot.
“Because at this time you have more moisture coming into the atmosphere and when there is a lot of moisture in the atmosphere, with the sun coming in, coupled with the absence of the rain, the temperature tends to rise,” the chief executive reportedly explained.
We hold that explanation as too pedestrian and neither here nor there against the backdrop of current experiences. For an enlightened citizen, his remarks, we hasten to add, smacks of either ignorance or a smart attempt to play the ostrich.
But be that as it may, we think the federal government and its various agencies should adopt proactive measures to cushion the telling effects of the situation on the citizenry.
Firstly, we think the government should step up awareness campaign in schools, markets, places of worship and mass media on dangers of heat wave and measures to prevent them. This, of course, will require adoption of strategies and engaging in climate resilient practices to cope with the damage that has been done. It should encourage strict adherence to actions that would stem further emissions into the atmosphere.
People should be encouraged to drink more water to replace what they are losing, take a lot of fruit juice, wear light attires, keep their rooms well ventilated at night, keep the environment clean, apply a lot of sun cream to prevent sun burn and sun glasses to protect the eyes.
The general public should be encouraged to avoid staying in congested places like markets, places of worships, garage, schools and places that could be dangerous to their health. However, against the backdrop of the congested dwellings in urban areas coupled with persistent public power outages across the country, enjoying much desired ventilation may seem a mirage to average city dwellers.
Above all, we continue to wonder of what use the various mass mobilisation agencies of government like National Orientation Agency, NOA, Ministry of Information alongside the television and radio outlets among others are doing in the face of this obvious threat to the nation’s health.

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