Following dramatic heat wave events in Europe in the past (e.g. in 2003), many European countries have introduced partnerships between weather services, civil protection agencies and public health authorities at the national, subnational or local level. The goal of these partnerships is to protect citizens from the negative impacts of hot weather to their health by announcing advisories and implementing mitigation measures when the forecast weather is expected to adversely affect population health in a country, region or city.

The comprehensive response of national governments or regional authorities to the health risks of extreme heat is generally denoted as heat-health action plan (HHAP) whereas the weather-based alert component of a HHAP is referred to as heat-health warning system (HHWS).

HHWS generally consist of weather forecasts, methods to assess the weather-health relation, a system of “graded” alerts and the communication of such alerts. A HHWS uses meteorological forecasts to initiate acute public health interventions designed to reduce heat stress impacts on human health during extreme heat conditions. The HHWS is activated once the temperature or other heat index exceeds specified thresholds. Most HHWS are developed and maintained by National Meteorological and Hydrological Services and are connected to a HHAP.

The thematic maps below provide an overview of existing HHAP and HHWS in Europe based on information collected in 2019 by the WHO Regional Office for Europe (for HHAP, based on a survey of national health authorities) and the HEAT-SHIELD project (for HHWS, based on a survey of national meteorological services). Note that the geographical coverage of these surveys differed somewhat, and that not all countries have responded to these surveys.

An independent review of HHAP and HHWS in Europe was conducted in the EU-funded SCORCH project. The results have been published in the article Governing heatwaves in Europe: comparing health policy and practices to better understand roles, responsibilities and collaboration.


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This translation is generated by eTranslation, a machine translation tool provided by the European Commission.