Since 2004, the Directorate-General of Health (DGS) has developed Contingency Plans to minimise the potential effects of adverse extreme temperatures on the health of the population. The impact of climate change has justified the urgency of implementing these measures.
The conclusions of the annual reports of the contingency plans for the adverse temperatures from 2015 to 2017 were analysed.
In 2016, the Seasonal Health Planning was integrated into an annual perspective in order to swiftly meet the challenges of climate change. The organisation and planning of monitoring and response from different health units take place in national, regional and local organisations (DGS/Regional Health Administration/local organisations). An internal (health organisations and partners) and external (population and the media) Communication Plan is annually set. Internal communications promote sending notices, monitoring and other relevant information. External communication is based on the provision and sharing of information to the population. Carried out through the media, campaigns, and, permanently, through the ‘Seasonal Health’ digital platform that follows the daily evolution of different indicators. The national structure collaborates directly and permanently with the different stakeholders in order to prepare and integrate all responses, namely with the National Authority for Civil Protection, Social Security, Portuguese Institute for Sea and Atmosphere, Law Enforcement and Municipalities. The notices issued by the partners are sent by the national organisation in order to adopt the necessary measures within the contingency plans. Climate change presents new challenges that require the adaptation of the Health response. The increased use of technology and social media can allow for a greater proximity between all stakeholders, optimising the adoption of preventive measures towards extreme temperatures, with health gains.