Experts call for study on impacts of climate change and heat-related events on mental health, behavioural changes

1,441 people seek medical help for heat-related illnesses

Updated - May 18, 2024 01:20 pm IST

Published - May 17, 2024 09:10 pm IST - THIRUVANANTHAPURAM

Weather and health experts on May 17 emphasised the need to study the impacts of climate change and heat-related weather events on aspects such as mental health and behavioural changes. They also called for proper classification of heat wave and the development of composite, sector-wise indices.

The suggestions came at a workshop on Extreme heat and impact on Kerala organised jointly by Kerala Union of Working Journalists, the India Meteorological department and Asar Social Impact Advisors.

M.S. Manu, nodal officer, National Programme on Climate Change and Human Health, said 1,441 people had sought medical care for heat-related illnesses in 2024. This included 1,168 cases of heat rash, 180 cases of sunburn, 53 cases of heat exhaustion and eight suspected cases of heat stroke. Palakkad district reported the highest number of cases at 530, followed by Kottayam and Ernakulam, both of which reported over 200 cases.

Heat action plan

The impact of heat on mental health is among the topics proposed for inclusion in the updated State Heat Action Plan. Fahad Marzook, Hazard Analyst, Kerala State Disaster Management Authority, said efforts are on to open ‘heat clinics’ in major hospitals and equip primary health centres (PHC) to handle first aid heat-related illnesses.

Abhiyant Tiwari, lead climate resilience and health consultant, Natural Resources Defense Council, said the estimation of local thresholds is essential for effective management of heat-related events and early warning systems.

S. Abhilash, Director, Advanced Centre for Atmospheric radar Research, Cochin University of Science and Technology, called for heat wave classification based on duration, intensity and frequency. There is also a need for sector-wise classification of heat wave conditions, he said.

V.K. Mini, senior scientist, India Meteorological department (IMD), spoke on the challenges and opportunities in forecasting extreme weather events and heat trends. She underlined the need for a multi-stakeholder team with experts from academia and research in addition to operational set-ups in the sectors concerned for impact-based forecasting of heat waves.

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