According to a report by Expresso, the study found that in this wave, mortality was 60% higher in units without air conditioning, and the installation of air conditioning systems in inpatient services was recommended.

But, 20 years later, there are hospitals that still do not have air conditioning, as is the case of Neonatology at Hospital de Faro, where parents fear for their babies.

Also at Centro Hospitalar Tondela-Viseu, several services continue without air conditioning and during the last heat wave there were patients who felt unwell and who had "clinical complications caused by the abrupt rise in temperatures".

In this unit, ventilation is done using fans or "portable equipment", and there are even professionals who take in home appliances to try to ensure better air conditioning.

Ongoing problem

According to the president of the Portuguese Association of Hospital Administrators, Xavier Barreto, in statements to Expresso, "some hospitals have structural air conditioning problems because they were built many years ago. For new constructions, the law establishes that there must be an air conditioning system, but for the old ones, which are the majority, there is no air conditioning as it was not obligatory when they were built”.

In turn, Ana Fernandes, from the Portuguese Association of Cold and Air Conditioning Engineers, claims central air conditioning, mandatory in hospitals built from 2008 onwards, is often inefficient, as is the case at the Emergency Department of Hospital de São José, in Lisbon.

In homes, the situation is more serious, since the recommendations of the Central Administration of Health Systems (ACSS) for health units "leave out the Residential Structures for the Elderly" and only requires the existence of air conditioning in the licensing of new units "when all the ventilation and ventilation conditions of the spaces are not guaranteed".

440 deaths in one day

According to CNN Portugal's calculations, between July 9 and 15, 2021, the country registered 1,990 deaths, a number that shot up 33% to 2,644 in the same period in 2022, the highest value since official records began (2009).

In fact, over the course of four days, Portugal hit maximum mortality for this time of year and the peak happened on July 14 with 440 deaths in a single day.

Rui Nogueira, former president of the Portuguese Association of General and Family Medicine, explains that heat waves, and especially those that last for several days, are particularly worrying for those who have heart, respiratory and hypertension problems.

"Temperatures above 35 degrees are already difficult for the elderly and sick, but above 40 degrees, as we have seen, is overwhelming", concludes the doctor.