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South Sudan shuts down schools due to excessive heat wave

The South Sudan government’s Ministry of Health shut down schools in the country beginning March 18, 2024, due to an excessive heatwave and a precaution to protect the health of students.

In its statement issued over the weekend, the Office of the Minister said the heatwave is expected to last about two weeks with temperatures up to between 41 degrees Celsius and 45 degrees Celsius.

“According to the Ministry of Environment and Forestry advisory, most parts of South Sudan are experiencing a heat wave. The awareness of the health risks posed by heatwaves and prolonged exposure to increased temperatures is necessary. Health professionals must adjust their planning and interventions to account for increasing temperatures and heatwaves. Practical, feasible and often low-cost interventions at the individual, organizational, government and societal levels can save lives,” read the statement in part.

Also read: Heat wave in Nairobi sparks social media jokes

In light of this, the Ministry advised citizens to keep their homes cool, keep their bodies cool and hydrated, and help others by sharing advice related to existing health problems or if they feel unwell.

“During the closure of schools, parents are advised to stop their children from playing outdoors and they should also monitor children, especially the young ones for signs of heat exhaustion and heatstroke,” added the statement.

Any schools that will be found operating within these two weeks were threatened with deregistration.

A heatwave is a prolonged period of excessively hot weather which may be accompanied by high humidity. It is characterized by above-average temperatures during a particular time of year. It occurs due to a number of reasons including lack of cloud cover, drought conditions that are prevalent in South Sudan, certain weather patterns such as the movement of air masses, climate change that contributes to more frequent and severe heatwaves and high-pressure systems that trap warm air in a region for an extended period.

Heatwaves pose health risks such as heat exhaustion that have symptoms including heavy sweating, weakness, cold, pale and clammy skin. One may also experience weak pulses, nausea, vomiting, fainting, heatstroke, dehydration, hot, red and dry skin as well as the worsening of chronic conditions such as respiratory, cardiovascular and kidney diseases.

This high risk includes the elderly, young children and people with certain medical conditions.

Also read: Experts blame El-Niño for heatwave

As Kenya lies to the south of South Sudan, the East African nation has also been experiencing high temperatures as well. The Kenya Meteorological Department has been on record severally advising Kenyans to prepare for scorching temperatures exceeding 30 degrees Celsius and to stay hydrated as well as take precautions against the sun’s rays during the day and dress warmly for cooler nights.

The East African also reported that global patterns such as climate change and El Nino affect temperatures and for every decade that passes it becomes progressively warmer.

“The temperatures are expected to continue rising and will only be ameliorated by the onset of the long rains. Until then, the globe, not just Kenya, will continue experiencing high temperatures,” reported the East African following a conversation with Dr Cromwell Lukorito, a climate scientist at the University of Nairobi.