Even as the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has developed a surveillance system to record each death during extreme heat events, it also needs to be integrated in the public health system, experts have said.
Prof Mahaveer Golechha, Nodal officer of Centre for Excellence on Heat Health under the National Programme on Climate Change and Public Health, Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India, told The Indian Express that surveillance systems have been developed to record deaths during extreme heat events but are yet to be integrated in the public health system.
Prof Dileep Mavalankar, who heads the Indian Institute of Public Health at Gandhinagar, has said that hospital admissions and mortality need to be reported every day so that they can be correlated with heat. “What we have shown in Ahmedabad is that if you correlate mortality with temperature, then one can arrive at a local threshold. Each city has to have a local threshold of morbidity and mortality determination. Training and awareness programmes are being conducted but there is a need to record the death and correlate it with temperature across each city,” he said.
A National Action Plan on Heat-Related Illness (HRI) has been developed that outlines the basics of heat wave, HRIs and their management from primary to tertiary level, preparedness plan before, during and after summer season, and the standard operating procedures for surveillance of heat stroke cases and deaths. The plan has been prepared under the National Programme on Climate Change and Human Health.
According to Dr Archana Patil, Maharashtra director of health, advisories along with weekly IMD weather bulletins on heat wave conditions have been issued to each district in the state as hot days become the norm across Maharashtra. “So far, no case of heat stroke has been reported this year,” state health authorities have said.
Dr Pradeep Awate, State surveillance officer, told The Indian Express that since the beginning of March there has been a rise in the maximum and minimum temperatures. Each district has been told to step up measures to come out with their heat action plans so that facilities like cooling rooms, emergency medical kits and others are in place. “With the help of IMD, we are also planning to step up awareness about the heat condition during a particular day with colour-based codes. White colours would be associated with normal, pleasant temperature. Yellow, orange and red colours would be associated with related alerts on mild and severe heat conditions,” Dr Awate added.
Dr Sanjay Deshmukh, Assistant Director (health) Pune circle, which includes Pune, Satara and Solapur, said weather bulletins were being shared with health authorities so that they were aware of the heat wave warning for the next five days.