This research is carried out by Bethwel Mutai 1 with funding support from the Global Disaster Preparedness Center.
Although heat-related disasters have risen worldwide, lack of reliable and consistent climate datasets and standard detection metrics in Africa can easily downplay not only the existence of episodes of extreme heat, but also the concomitant human health impacts. This is particularly the case within the rapidly growing metropolises of sub-Saharan Africa, including those in Kenya. In parallel, there is increasing evidence that such extreme heat is affecting health.
The study found out that heatwave events ranging from normal to very extreme have occurred in Kenya during the study period. The risk of COPD prevalence and deaths depict different degrees of linearity with the heatwave characteristics over the three Counties. The risk of COPD prevalence varies at different levels of heatwave duration over Nairobi and Tana River. A statistically significant percent relative risk of COPD prevalence of 0.76 % ((-1.82 % to 3.32 %)) increase with respect to a one-day increase in the duration of heatwave events over Nairobi was observed. Based on the acceptable linearity assumption, one-day increase in the duration of heatwave events will lead to a 0.03 % ((-0.99 % to 1.04 %)) increase in the risk of COPD prevalence over Tana River. As proposed by Curriero et al. (2002), the low and/or insignificant relative risk for COPD could be attributed to acclimatization. Over Turkana County for example, adaptation of populations to their local climate is evident by the decrease in COPD risk even with prolonged heatwave duration.
On the basis of the findings presented in this report, it is recommended that, in order to establish cause effect, cause specific (e.g., emphysema, chronic bronchitis etc.) morbidity and mortality data segregated along age and gender and for specific health facilities should be incorporated.
1 Department of Earth and Climate Sciences, University of Nairobi, KENYA