Death toll rises to 143; actual number may be higher, ET HealthWorld

Death toll rises to 143; actual number may be higher, ET HealthWorld


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New Delhi: The prolonged scorching heatwave in large parts of the country has claimed many lives, health ministry sources said on Friday. 143 people died and 41,789 suffered from suspected heatstroke between March 1 and June 20 this year. However, the death toll from the heatwave is expected to be much higher as the data compiled under the National Heat-Related Illness and Death Surveillance by the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) does not have the latest information from the states.

Many health facilities have not yet uploaded data on the number of deaths due to the heatwave.

According to official figures, on June 20 alone, 14 deaths were confirmed due to heatstroke and nine due to suspected heatstroke, taking the death toll in the March-June period from 114 to 143.

According to the data, Uttar Pradesh is the worst-hit state with 35 deaths, followed by Delhi (21) and Bihar and Rajasthan (17 each).

Union Health Minister J.P. Nadda on Thursday asked officials to visit central hospitals as long as the heat wave continues to check if separate arrangements have been made for the affected patients and also to assess the number of deaths caused by heat wave in the last few days.

Large parts of north and east India have been reeling under intense heat for a long period, leading to a surge in deaths due to heat stroke and forcing the Centre to issue advisories to hospitals to set up special units for such patients.

Nadda on Wednesday directed that special heatwave units be set up in all central government hospitals to take care of people falling ill due to heat.

He asked the officials to ensure that all hospitals are prepared to provide the best healthcare to the affected people. He reviewed the situation across the country and the preparedness of hospitals to deal with it.

An advisory on 'Heat Wave Season 2024' has been issued by the Health Ministry to the State Health Departments under the directions of the Union Health Minister.

“Seasonal maximum temperatures may remain above normal, in line with the summer temperature trend across the country. Health departments should ensure preparedness and timely response to mitigate the health impacts of extreme heat,” the ministry said.

The advisory asked state nodal officers under the National Programme on Climate Change and Human Health (NPCCHH) to start submitting data on heatstroke cases and deaths, and total deaths, on a daily basis from March 1, along with reporting under heat-related illness and death surveillance.

It has been asked to maintain digital line lists of heatstroke cases and deaths (suspected/confirmed) at the health facility/hospital level as per the prescribed format and commitment. They have been asked to ensure dissemination of the National Action Plan on Heat Stroke Related Illnesses (HRI) in all districts and strengthen the preparedness of health systems for HRI.

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

The advisory also provides directions for preparing the health facility for prevention and management of acute HRI and procurement and supply of adequate quantity of ORS packs, essential medicines, IV fluids, ice packs and equipment to aid in management of volume depletion and electrolyte imbalance etc.

It also calls for ensuring availability of adequate drinking water, common cooling devices and their functionality in waiting and patient treatment areas in all health facilities, and emphasises that suspected heatstroke cases should be rapidly assessed and actively cooled using standard treatment protocols.

“Coordinate with the power distribution company/corporation for uninterrupted power supply for continuous operation of cooling equipment in hospitals. Adopt measures to reduce indoor heat and conserve energy in healthcare facilities, such as cool roofs/green roofs, window shades, rainwater harvesting, solar power, etc. Provide shade outside healthcare facilities in hot areas,” the advisory said.

  • Published on June 21, 2024 at 02:27 PM IST

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