The health impacts associated with increased temperatures from the urban heat islands and climate change are hard to detect. This is because hotter conditions worsen existing poor health related to conditions such as heart and lung diseases, diabetes and asthma. Ill health and deaths, therefore, are often not attributed to increased temperatures and the full effect of high temperatures may not have been fully measured.
Higher temperatures not only affect people with ill-health but also on poorer people who live in buildings without insulation and mechanical cooling. It also affects learners in poorly ventilated schools and patients in overcrowded hospitals.
New developments in cities must, therefore, reduce the heat island effect by incorporating lighter colours, more trees and vegetation and providing for breeze paths that enable winds to cool the city. Cities must also develop building upgrade programmes that ensure that roofs are lighter coloured and adequately insulated. In addition, to these infrastructure measures to reduce heat stress, city occupants should be encouraged to develop behaviours which reduce heat stress such as drinking water regularly and avoiding vigorous activities during the hottest parts of the day.