LATE last month, there were two reports of children in Kelantan — one seven-month old toddler from Kota Baru and an 11-year old boy from Bachok — having succumbed to a heatwave that, till today, is still affecting the world.
Those reports drove home the gravity of the situation as effects from climate change continue to intensify, with temperatures reaching 35° to 37°C.
The Malaysian Meteorological Department considers temperatures above 35°C for three days in a location to be a heatwave.
This situation could potentially become worse later in the year when weather phenomenon El Nino emerges, heralding more hot weather and drought to the Asian region.
This weather phenomenon is caused by the flow of warm and cool oceanic currents circulating the planet.
The concern that the current heatwave could potentially become a prolonged occurrence exacerbated by El Nino has given rise to warnings from health experts, the Ministry of Health and environmentalists.
With the heatwave, those unaware can very easily be affected by a heatstroke, which carry symptoms of cramps due to heat, followed by signs of body temperature reaching 39°C, fast heartbeat, dizziness or headache and extreme fatigue.
This has prompted schools in locations where the heatwave is said to be at its most scorching to make necessary adjustments, such as religious schools in Johor allowing students to attend classes dressed in sports attire instead of the baju Melayu for boys, headscarves and baju kurung for girls.
In agriculture, specifically the palm oil industry, changes in climatic conditions and temperature affect how successfully a crop will produce.
Oil palm trees are heavily reliant on moisture, requiring 150mm to 200mm of rainfall each month.
Although its trees are hardy and can withstand drought, dry periods more than two months begin to induce drought stress, which results in reduced flowering and fruit production for the subsequent 12-month period.
Similarly, the sentiment was felt among livestock breeders in Kedah who found some of their livestocks perished due to the rising temperatures out in the open fields.
Certain parts of Malaysia the maximum daily temperature can hit about 38°C for two to three days in a row and this also places a strain on those working out in the open.
On May 18, Health Minister Dr Zaliha Mustafa said that the ministry is working with other agencies, including the National Disaster Management Agency, to draft guidelines on dealing with heatstroke.