Heat wave poses serious health problems for people in Punjab: Dr Purohit

Heat wave poses serious health problems for people in Punjab: Dr Purohit

Jalandhar, May 15th (UNI) As the heatwave continues across the state, daytime temperatures are approaching 43 degrees Celsius in many cities across Punjab. This poses serious problems for human health and is likely to worsen the condition of people suffering from cardiovascular diseases and co-morbidities such as diabetes, hypertension, kidney disorders and heart problems, said Dr Naresh Purohit, Principal Investigator of the National Integrated Disease Surveillance Program. Expressing concern over this pertinent issue, epidemiologist Dr Purohit told UNI here on Sunday that the heat wave is the second deadliest disaster after the flood. Prolonged exposure to heat causes heatstroke and heat exhaustion and causes various respiratory and cardiovascular diseases. The current heat wave is making patients sicker and forcing them to seek medical attention. “Patients with cardiovascular disease are likely to get sicker because dehydration from hot weather can cause various problems. During heat waves, it is very important that children, the elderly and those with co-morbidities completely avoid venturing out between 1:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m.,” said renowned public health expert Dr Purohit. He said the frequency of heat waves negatively affects different sectors of the economy. Besides the negative impact on farmers, heat waves have a disproportionate impact on the lives of day labourers, small street vendors, bricklayers, construction workers and rickshaw pullers. Heat waves have a negative impact on the productivity of these workers and thus affect the overall economy of the country. He pointed out that prolonged heat waves have a negative impact on agricultural productivity and affect the livestock sector as animals are more vulnerable to heat waves. In addition, heat waves increase the risk of forest fires, causing a sudden increase in demand for electricity and irrigation water. According to the International Labor Organization (2019) report, India lost about 4.3% of working hours due to heat stress in 1995 and is expected to lose 5.8% of working hours in 2030. The report also shows that 9.04% of working hours are expected. to lose in each of the agriculture and construction sectors, respectively, due to heat stress in 2030. Workers in these sectors will be severely affected in 2030 as India’s large population depends on these sectors for their livelihoods. In absolute terms, India would lose around 34 million full-time jobs in 2030 due to heat stress. Dr. Purohit asserted that deaths from heat waves can be prevented or minimized by installing improved early warning systems that communicate heat wave threats, recommend preventive measures and predict disaster impact scenarios. He said raising public awareness through print, electronic and social media, providing heat resistant shelter during the summer, facilitating access to public drinking water and massive reforestation, especially in urban and rural areas, would help mitigate deaths from heat waves. He said reducing outdoor exercise during heat alerts can protect individuals from the adverse effects of extreme heat. He said staying hydrated, eating fruits with high water content and avoiding fried foods are crucial to effectively combat sunburn. He revealed that a stroke situation occurs when all the organs are in shock due to dehydration. It is therefore crucial to have water to restore lost electrolytes. UNI RT SY