13 December 2018

Uganda: Temperature Dip Triggers Health Alert

Kampala — Ugandans with respiratory diseases or conditions such as asthma or allergies are at increased risk of severe attacks due to the sudden change in weather, currently marked by significant drop in temperatures, experts said yesterday.

A similar alert on possible bout of pneumonia attack has been issued for children and the elderly who generally have low immunity if they are exposed to the cold for long.

Senior government officials said yesterday that the Tuesday downpour, and a dip in temperature overnight from an average 26 degrees Celsius to 16°C in most parts of the country presents higher imminent health dangers.

Scientists at the Uganda Meteorological Authority (Unma), which is responsible for weather forecasts and climatic issues, said the sudden weather variation is hostile for particularly people suffering from respiratory complication such as asthma and allergies.

The second rainy season that runs from September to December, such as the on Tuesday, will continue until end of the year, the Entebbe-based Authority noted in an alert posted on its website.

In Kampala, Dr Vincent Karuhanga said diseases such as asthma reduce the amount of air that flows to the lungs, complicating breathing.

Cold days and nights or dusty environments, he added, exacerbate such conditions among vulnerable segments of the population.

Experts concerned

"That is why children, elderly people and those allergic or asthmatic get attacks during such days. Those who are allergic or asthmatic should always keep warm by overdressing. If they are travelling, warm the cars and avoid taking cold drinks," Dr Karuhanga said.

He added: "Make sure you do not smoke, avoid charcoal and taking cold drinks on such days."

Dr Gerald Mutungi, the head of Non-Communicable Diseases programme in the Health ministry, said there are many people now suffering from allergies and asthma. Such people, he noted, should take extra caution when leaving their homes during this drastic weather change.

"Those in the villages are advised to use improved cooking stoves [to avoid smoke] and not the usual three stones [open air-cooking]," Dr Mutungi said.

As a guide, he said home owners must ensure well-ventilated room to avoid smoke accumulation and inhalation by family members that could potentially cause chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

"The elderly should keep warm always," Dr Mutungi added.

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