The World Health Organization (WHO) in Europe announced on Friday that the heat wave affecting Europe was responsible for 1,700 deaths in the Iberian Peninsula alone and called for joint efforts to tackle climate change. Contacted by AFP, the UN body explained that the figure was a preliminary estimate based on data from national authorities. The organization added that the number has “already increased” and “will continue to increase in the coming days”. According to the WHO, the actual number associated with the heat wave will not be known for weeks. “Heat kills. In recent decades, hundreds of thousands of people have died from extreme heat during long heat waves, often linked to wildfires,” WHO Europe Director Hans Kluge said in a statement. Hans Kluge said exposure to extreme temperatures “often worsens pre-existing health conditions,” and noted that babies, children and the elderly are particularly at risk.
He also highlighted the impact of bushfires, insisting we are halfway through ‘that scorching summer’. “Finally, this week’s events underline once again the desperate need for European action to effectively tackle climate change,” he added. According to Hans Kluge, governments need to show will and leadership in implementing the Paris Agreements, the 53 countries that are members of WHO Europe, including many in Central Asia, “have already demonstrated that they can work together. There are urgent threats to global health” and “it’s time for us to do it again.” .