Nine dead, 564 hospitalised in this year’s heatwave in Maharashtra, says DHS data

The heatwave in Maharashtra killed nine people and affected 564 leading to their hospitalisations this year. While monsoon has brought some respite in the last few days, activists said preparatory measures should start now to brave the next summer in a better way.

Data collected by the Directorate of Health Services shows that nearly 2,300 cases and 64 deaths due to heat-related illnesses have been reported in the State since 2011. But these numbers could be under-reported as the statistics have been taken only from the government-run medical facilities.

When one is exposed to excessive heat, the temperature regulation of the body collapses and the patient succumbs if timely treatment is not offered.

“The paediatric and geriatric population is more vulnerable. People with co-morbid conditions and those under medication are also at high risk,” said epidemiologist Dr. Pradeep Awate, adding the heat-related cases are seen in the months of March, April, May, and June.

Nagpur, Gadchiroli, Chandrapur, Wardha, Akola, and Yavatmal are the most-affected districts but with the changing climate patterns, high temperatures have been recorded from many other areas as well. For example, in 2017, a village in Raigad district in the Konkan belt recorded an unusually high maximum temperature of 46.5 degrees Celsius.

Prepare early

According to Premsagar Tasgaonkar, a researcher from Watershed Organisation Trust (WOTR), preparations to combat heatwave impacts should start in advance. “Now that the monsoon is here, tree plantations and rainwater harvesting to increase the water storage bodies will help in the long run,” Mr. Tasgaonkar said. He said lack of vegetation and water bodies is known to cause a rise in the temperatures.

He said the government hospitals too should be well-equipped before the summer hits. “Most hospitals don’t have well-equipped cold rooms with coolers to cater to patients of heat exhaustion. The hospitals start preparing only after a heatwave warning is issued, which should not be the case,” he said.

On-ground researchers said heat-related warnings and awareness advisories should be disseminated through radio, television, and phones way in advance. “Today, everyone has a phone, even in rural areas. The government can simply tie up with any of the telecommunication companies and circulate messages time to time,” Mr. Tasgaonkar said.

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Printable version | Nov 26, 2021 3:26:34 AM |

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