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Punishing Summer: 114 Heatwave Deaths Reported, Nearly 41,000 Cases of Suspected Heatstroke

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A woman suffering from a heat-related illness being brought to LNJP Hospital for treatment, as New Delhi witnesses hot weather conditions, on June 20. (Image: PTI)

A woman suffering from a heat-related illness being brought to LNJP Hospital for treatment, as New Delhi witnesses hot weather conditions, on June 20. (Image: PTI)

Uttar Pradesh is the worst-affected having reported 37 deaths followed by Bihar, Rajasthan and Odisha, as per the data compiled under the National Heat-Related Illness and Death Surveillance by the National Centre for Disease Control

The unrelenting heatwave sweeping large parts of the country has claimed at least 114 lives and left more than 40,984 people grappling with suspected heatstroke between March 1 and June 18 this year. The death toll may go up as the data from states is not final, said health ministry sources.

Uttar Pradesh is the worst-affected having reported 37 deaths followed by Bihar, Rajasthan and Odisha, according to the data compiled under the National Heat-Related Illness and Death Surveillance by the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC).

“The data may not be final submission from states. So the numbers are expected to be higher than this,” an official source said.

Union Health Minister JP Nadda on Thursday asked officials to visit central government hospitals to see if separate arrangements have been made for heatwave affected patients regularly. According to the data, on June 19, there have been four confirmed deaths due to heatstroke and seven suspected heatstroke fatalities.

Swathes of northern and eastern India have been in the grip of a heatwave, increasing heatstroke casualties and prompting the Centre to issue advisory to hospitals to set up special units to cater to such patients.

Nadda on Wednesday directed that special heatwave units be set up in all Central government hospitals to cater to those falling ill due to heat. The health minister also asked officials to ensure all hospitals are prepared for providing the best healthcare to the affected as he reviewed the situation across the country and preparedness of hospitals to deal with it.

Under the directions of Nadda, an advisory for state health department on ‘Heat Wave Season 2024’ has been issued by the health ministry. “The country may observe above normal seasonal maximum temperatures in line with the observed trend of summertime temperatures. To reduce health impacts of extreme heat, health departments must ensure preparedness and timely response,” the ministry said.

The advisory asked state nodal officers under the National Programme for Climate Change and Human Health (NPCCHH) to start submitting the daily data on heatstroke cases and deaths and total deaths from March 1 besides reporting under Heat-Related Illness and Death Surveillance.

It called for maintenance of digital line list of heatstroke cases and deaths (suspected/confirmed) at health facility/hospital level in given formats and undertaking. They have been asked to ensure dissemination of National Action Plan on Heat Related Illnesses (HRI) to all districts and strengthening of health systems preparedness for HRI.

It stressed on dissemination of early warning of heatwaves issued by the India Meteorological Department (IMD) and said forecast for the next four days should be disseminated to health facilities and vulnerable populations.

The advisory also directed for health facility preparedness for prevention and management of severe HRI and procurement and supply of adequate quantities of ORS (oral rehydration solution) packs, essential medicines, IV fluids, ice-packs, and equipment to support management of volume depletion and electrolyte imbalance, etc.

It also called for ensuring availability of sufficient drinking water at all health facilities, general cooling appliances in waiting and patient treatment area and their functioning, and stressed that cases with suspected heatstroke should be rapidly assessed and actively cooled using standard treatment protocols.

“Coordinate with power distribution company/corporation for uninterrupted electricity supply to hospitals for constant functioning of cooling appliances. Adopt measures to reduce indoor heat and energy conservation in health facilities like cool roof/green roof, window shading, rainwater harvesting, solarization etc. Provide shade outside the health facilities in heat-prone regions,” the advisory added.

(This story has not been edited by News18 staff and is published from a syndicated news agency feed – PTI)

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