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    Michelle Hughes

    Michelle Hughes

    Disclaimer: I will begin this comment by declaring that I had a major role in the development of the pwc report referred to in this post.

    In discussing extreme heat or in fact any extreme weather event that we can predict it is important to remember that a lot can be done to minimize mortality and protect those most vulnerable. At the moment the community, nfp and social services groups take a huge role in this and they must be involved in any health planning around this issue. In addition prevention will require coordination with a number of sectors – an example will be energy suppliers to ensure that, where possible, the most vulnerable have available, affordable power supply during these events.

    It is clear that we need a coordinated response from federal, state and local government around this issue. One simple but interesting issue raised in the pwc report is that we do not have a nationally agreed definition of an extreme heat event. The EHF discussed in the pwc report is important because it takes into account multiple factors including adaptation and is applicable anywhere, my understanding is that BoM’s work is world leading in this respect. Maximum temperatures, averages and length of event are not enough as what constitutes an extreme event in one place by those definitions may not be extreme elsewhere. Until we speak a common language on this then analysis of retrospective data to forecast future impact is difficult. This is complicated by the lack of readily usable data in this area – as previously noted health information rarely identifies heat as an issue and it is not only inpatient facilities dealing with the health impacts of such events. I come back to my point on prevention….

    I look forward to the publication of the studies referred to by Dr Leigh Wilson in the hope that they may have resolved or can shine further light on this issue.

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