India reports 110 heat stroke deaths, 42,000 cases till 18 June, rural population take the hit

  • This intensity, length and frequency of heatwaves have put a huge pressure on healthcare facilities, with an increase in reports of heat-related illnesses.

Priyanka Sharma, Puja Das
First Published20 Jun 2024, 06:42 PM IST
Heat waves this year have been exceptionally severe, with red alerts being declared in several parts of India mid-May.
Heat waves this year have been exceptionally severe, with red alerts being declared in several parts of India mid-May.(AFP)

New Delhi: A total of 110 heat stroke-related deaths and 40,272 suspected cases have been reported in India till 18 June, according health ministry data, as temperatures continue to hover around 50° Celsius, synging vast swathes of the country.

Most cases and deaths were reported from rural India, given the nature of strenuous outdoor work associated with agriculture. In addition, rural India continues to be blighted by poor health infrastructure in comparison with towns and cities.

Heatwaves this year have been exceptionally severe, with red alerts being declared in several parts of the country in mid-May, impacting both urban and rural areas. The intensity, frrequency and length of heatwaves have put a huge pressure on healthcare facilities, with an increase in heat-related illnesses. 

The infrastructure in densely populated areas are struggling to cope with the high temperatures, according to experts.

Also read |  Monsoon tracker: IMD forecasts heavy rain in Mumbai, neighbouring areas

June set the record for the highest temperature registered in the month, a scorching 47°C, in a decade. By comparison, the highest June temperature was 41.8°C in 2023, 44.2°C in 2022 and 43°C in 2021.

Madhya Pradesh reported the highest number of h1eat stroke cases at 10,636, followed by Rajasthan (6,546), Andhra Pradesh (3,994), Uttar Pradesh (3,590), Odisha (3,574), Chhattisgarh (3,278) Bihar (2,054).

The highest number of 36 deaths were reorted in Uttar Pradesh, followed by Bihar (17), Rajasthan (16), Odisha (13), Telangana (7) and Madhya Pradesh (3), according to health ministry data seen by Mint.

Heatwave situation reviewed

On Wednesday, health minister J.P. Nadda reviewed the heatwave preparedness in Central government hospitals.

“He has directed the officials to ensure that all hospitals are prepared to provide the best healthcare to the affected. He has also directed special heatwave units to be started in the central govt hospitals,” the health ministry said in a statement adding that heat wave management advisory has been issued to states and UTs.

Also read |  ‘Heatwave units, submit data on heatstroke cases’, Govt issues new advisory

Preparedness for prevention and management of severe heat-related illnesses includes procurement and supply of adequate quantities of ORS packs, essential medicines, IV fluids, ice-packs, and equipment to support management of electrolyte imbalance, along with availability of sufficient drinking water and dedicated beds for heat stroke patients.

Doctors in both public and private sectors are reporting around 50% increase in patients complaining of gastrointestinal disorders and respiratory illnesses. Patients are being reported with heat stroke and heat cramps as symptoms.

Meanwhile, the national capital’s three major Central government hospitals have recorded multiple deaths. Safdarjung Hospital reported six deaths from 23 May till 19 June, the hospital spokesperson said.

RML hospital reported 11 deaths due to heat stroke from 27 May till 9 am on Wednesday. Lok Nayak Hospital has recorded two deaths.

Dr Atul Gogia, senior consultant at Sir Ganga Ram Hospital said, “We are seeing many patients with heat related complications. This summer is harsh as in the past we have not seen such a patient increase. We have admitted a few patients suffering from suspected heat stroke,”

Climate experts say that rural populations bear the brunt of stress and health problems because most of their work is outdoors -- in the fields or in construction – in the blazing sun. Rural poverty is another major factor, as the poor can neither afford to build their homes out of heat-resistant materials, nor access good quality hospitals.

Rural population particularly vulnerable

 

“Rural regions, heavily dependent on agriculture, face severe challenges. The extreme heat impacts crop yields and water availability, threatening food security and farmers' livelihoods. Many rural areas experience acute water shortages during heatwaves, affecting both human consumption and agricultural needs," said Nagakarthik M.P., co-founder of Sauramandala Foundation and part of ClimateRISE Alliance. 

"The availability of water becomes critical as reservoirs and natural water sources dry up. Addressing these impacts requires a multifaceted approach involving government intervention, community resilience, and sustainable infrastructure development.” 

Also read |  Extreme heat health risk: Feverish and dizzy? Know heatstroke impact on health

“Another core issue is that poor people in rural areas can’t afford to build their homes out of heat-resistant materials. Most people live in tin-roof houses. In thr summer, it can be hotter inside tin-roofed homes than outdoors.” he added.

 

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First Published:20 Jun 2024, 06:42 PM IST
HomeNewsIndiaIndia reports 110 heat stroke deaths, 42,000 cases till 18 June, rural population take the hit

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