Dr. Peter Bobbert
President of the Berlin Medical Association
Why are you involved in the expert council of the Climate Change Center Berlin Brandenburg?
Because climate change poses an existential threat to humanity. We are already recording thousands of heat-related deaths in Germany every year. We have to take action now and finally change something. But we can only do that by joining forces. The interdisciplinary approach of the Climate Change Center Berlin Brandenburg therefore convinced me.
Last year you were involved in the development of heat protection plans for Berlin. Why were they necessary?
Between 2018 and 2020, there were an estimated 1,400 heat-related deaths in Berlin and Brandenburg. We cannot accept that as it is – especially since we have to expect an increase in heat summers. That is why, on the initiative of the Berlin Medical Association, the Senate Department for Science, Health, Care and Equality and KLUG – Deutsche Allianz Klimawandel und Gesundheit e.V. (German Climate Change and Health Alliance), the “Aktionsbündnis Hitzeschutz Berlin” (Action Alliance for Heat Protection Berlin) was launched in March 2022 to protect patients and the population. The sample heat protection plans offered free of charge on the Aktionsbündnis Hitzeschutz website are aimed at five sectors of the healthcare system: hospitals, outpatient practices, district offices, inpatient care and outpatient care.
What is special about these plans?
The plans serve as a basis for the creation of individual heat protection plans in facilities or work areas of the Berlin health care system. This year, heat protection measures are to be taken to as many parts of the population as possible. The citizens of our city are to be informed about what they should do during hot spells. We at the Berlin Medical Association are convinced that heat protection is part of the provision of public services. Therefore, in our opinion, the new Berlin Senate is particularly called upon here.
What we need now are many, sometimes small steps and measures with which one can effectively protect oneself from heat. Drink enough, keep rooms cool, take care of yourself and others, avoid physical stress and adapt diet and clothing – to name just a few examples.
Health facilities can download the sample plans and adapt them to their specific needs. This May, up to 40 actors from Berlin’s health care system will also meet with us at the Berlin Medical Association and report on how the plans have been implemented in the individual facilities over the past year.
The interview was conducted in May 2023.