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India to become 2-4 degrees Celsius warmer, but deaths due to heat are preventable

The new health and livelihood challenges global warming presents to India are simply not ignorable! Intense heat appears to be the new normal regarding those 15 years of intense heat India has faced since 2002. India is considered to be the country which is likely to see intense heat waves once in every 10 years instead of once in every 100 years, which includes regions like Andhra Pradesh where alone holds the record of over 1,700 lives in 2015 heatwave study.

Increase in death ratio per year recorded by the scientific studies.
Increase in death ratio per year recorded by the scientific studies.

Dileep Mavalankar, 59, director of the Indian Institute of Public Health, India’s first public health university in Gandhinagar, Gujarat, told IndiaSpend in an interview: “People who are no strangers to warm weather but who will now face more severe heat waves intensified by climate change.” What we are aware of is the urban poor majority who are extremely vulnerable to heatstroke. According to estimates the number of homeless increases to 1,000 million people if we include those in housing that is "very insecure or temporary, often of poor quality. There are viable solutions to many of these problems like roof systems or multiple schemes that can provide shelter to those who are in immediate of one.

2015 alone wasn’t the only year of causing thousands of funerals in India instead, the ratio increased by 2016 as the rose in temperature was 0.91 degrees C above the 1961-1990 average. Later in 2017, heatwaves in late March swept through nine states of India which are: Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Haryana, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Odisha, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh.

Are deaths due to intense heat preventable? Became the question of almost every living person whose life was at risk. Earlier in 2014, the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation pioneered South Asia’s first Heat Action Plan, as reported by IndiaSpend on 31st of May, 2017. “Combining public education, extreme heat warnings and efforts to safeguard the most vulnerable populations is proving to be a good template for other cities and states to follow,” said Mavalankar of the Heat Action Plan that his colleagues and the Natural Resources Defense Council are supporting.

During an Interview questions which were mainly asked to Mavalankar are below:

Q 1: About 2,500 Indians are believed to have died in the intense heatwave of 2015 while 700 are believed to have succumbed to heat across the country in 2016, India’s hottest year ever. How reliable are heatstroke mortality figures in the media, and why do these fluctuate so much from year to year?

Q 2: Densely populated areas are said to be generally hotter than rural areas. What temperature difference have you recorded between rural areas and urban areas? Why does this happen, and does it mean that heatstrokes and heat-induced deaths are more likely to happen in urban areas?

Q 3: This year Mumbai saw a rise in cases of chickenpox and eczema during summer. Apart from the obvious dehydration and heatstroke, what other diseases can heatwave cause? Why does this happen and are such spurts in associated diseases preventable?

Human’s brain can not handle if the body temperature rises than 42 degree C as it does not have the potential to survive that, which in case can cause brain damage. The easiest ways to prevent heatstroke is to spray cool water on your body time to time, immediately provide cold water to the victim and etc. In short; keeping cool water with you is the key! Most commonly people who have not been directly exposed to the sun but have been exposed to high ambient temperature in different environs also suffer heatstroke.

When it comes to media, death ratios or heat fatalities are not accurately revealed in India. As in answer to the first question Such conditions which are most commonly recorded to happen in old and vulnerable people are technically called non-exertional heat strokes, with the estimate of being ten times the number of exertional (or direct) heat stroke deaths. Which are usually not recorded! Furthermore; the fluctuation in heat stroke mortality is because newborns, infants or elderly people with chronic lifestyle diseases are the most vulnerable to the indirect effect of heat.

People who suffer from shortage of water during high temperature, Captured in Uttar Pradesh.
People who suffer from shortage of water during high temperature, Captured in Uttar Pradesh.

Skin diseases varies from newborns to aged people commonly due to high temperature. Diseases such as chronic kidney disease, diarrhea, fever and more are basically caused due to dehydration, heat exhaustion or A virus. In hot parts of Rajasthan and Gujarat, farmers in rural or urban areas who works for hours under extreme heat and outdoor workers whose mostly hours are spent in tanks or bunkers are frequent victims to heatstroke.

It is becoming more challenging to address heatstroke as the upcoming years of climate change. Get yourselves ready as a precaution for the future, when there might be a record of 2-4 degree C increase in temperature! 

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