The Director-General of Health, Graça Freitas, today presented the Seasonal Health Emergency Plan – Summer Module 2021, which will be centered around risk assessment, risk management and communication.
The “Summer Unit”, which will last until the end of September, aims to prevent and reduce the negative effects of extreme heat on the health of the population in general and especially vulnerable groups, such as the elderly, children, pregnant women and people. With chronic diseases and people who engage in outdoor activities.
The plan also aims to reduce the incidence of other events that have an impact on health and that may increase in frequency in the summer, such as drowning and food poisoning.
The plan includes entities such as the National Emergency and Civil Protection Authority (ANPC), the National Institute for Medical Emergencies (INEM), the Portuguese Institute of the Seas and Atmospheres (IPMA) or the Institute for Relief to Shipwrecked (ISN).
“We have created a very useful information network for all partners and we will seek from each partner what they do and they have the best for,” said Graca Freitas, speaking during the plan presentation session, in Avis, Portalegre neighborhood.
With regard to the Covid-19 epidemic, the Directorate General of Light believes that during the summer, weather conditions may play a “limited role” in the transmission of the virus, although it warns that higher temperatures “may exacerbate” the effect of covid-19. Because underlying chronic diseases are not compensated and that “increased movement and communication” between people “may enhance” transmission of the virus.
The occupancy rate in bathing areas, and the increased demand for heat-related healthcare, linked to an increase in the number of COVID-19 cases “may overload” the NHS response in certain areas, according to the DGS.
Based on the information available at the national, regional and local levels, regional health departments must organize themselves, at every moment, and anticipate response needs in light of demand (increased demand or demand differs from expected) with a view to “minimizing” the effects of extreme heat on health and services.
“Summer also has its negative effects and its complications, and we must actually be very attentive to this complexity,” said Graça Freitas.
Since 2004, the Directorate General of Space has been promoting contingency plans with the aim of minimizing the potential effects of extreme heat on residents’ health.
The seasonal health emergency plan (winter and summer units) is framed by statutory regulation that reinforces the need for all NHS services and institutions to implement emergency plans at the local and regional level.
This contingency plan provides strategic guidance and references that allow for the communication and management of risks to the population and partners in the health sector, as well as empowering citizens with individual protection (literacy) and the readiness of health services to respond to increased or other unexpected demand.
The National Seasonal Health Emergency Plan is a guiding document that the Regional Health Administrations (ARS) must comply with, and in order to activate it will define more specific goals, methodologies, measures and activities, as well as the information/communication services, which they consider most appropriate at the regional and local level, drawing on the accumulated experience Since 2004.