Heat action plans are the need of the hour
What is the issue ?
- Heat related casualties and deaths have been increasing at an alarming rate all cross the country. To tackle this problem certain agencies have adopted 'heat action plans'.
Background to the issue :
- The municipal corporation of Ahmedabad developed a Heat Action Plan in 2013 with help from the Indian Institute of Public Health, Gandhinagar (IIPHG), NRDC, IMD and other partners.
Components of the heat action plan :
- The plan has a heat prediction and alert system using various media, community outreach and health education modules about how to protect from the ill-effects of heat.
- Preparation of hospitals and health staff to deal with heat emergency cases; reducing heat exposure, and simple adaptation measures like cooling centres and water distribution.
- Finally, each year the plan is evaluated for its impact based on data from the health department regarding mortality and morbidity.
Impact of adopting such a plan :
- This plan has shown substantial impact in reducing mortality during peak heat waves when the temperature goes above 44 degree C.
- After the implementation of the heat action plan (2013-2017), on peak heat days, the all-causes daily mortality has declined by 30% to 40% as compared to the years before the heat action plan (2009 to 2012).
Way forward :
- Customised heat action plans need to be adopted by all the localities across the country depending on the severity and occurence of extreme heat events to prevent loss of life.
- The National Disaster Management Authority needs to step in and take appropriate steps to identify the vulnerable areas and take necessary steps to minimise casualities.