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Monday, July 16, 2018

Weather: Researchers fear ‘May 2010 heat wave’ may return to city

With the mercury rising across the state,city-based researchers have alerted the local administration to be prepared for the worst as the city’s “May 2010 heat wave might occur again”.

Written by Mandar Chitre | Published: May 3, 2012 5:08:41 am

With the mercury rising across the state,city-based researchers have alerted the local administration to be prepared for the worst as the city’s “May 2010 heat wave might occur again”.

“Normally,Ahmedabad witnesses about 110-115 deaths every day during summer,but during peak heat wave the city had recorded more than 300 deaths in one day,in May 2010. There is no other explanation except for heat wave for this increase in mortality,” said Indian Institute of Public Health (IIPH) director Prof Dileep Mavalankar and senior lecturer Dr Gulrez Shah Azhar in a memorandum which was handed over to the city’s health officers and hospitals on Tuesday.

Temperatures had touched the 47-degree Celsius mark in the second half of May 2010 and 43 degrees Celsius in 2011.

The duo analysed the daily mortality data from the AMC and temperature data of 2010 provided by the Meteorology Department. They found that the gross mortality and temperatures “strongly correlated”. “There was a sudden increase in mortality as soon as the maximum temperature crossed the 43-degree Celsius mark,” they said,adding,“temperatures may have been higher by 3-5 degrees in the city”.

The findings are part of larger efforts initiated by IIPH and two other bodies — the Public Health Foundation of India and an international environmental group called Natural Resources Defense Council — soon after the 2010 heat wave.

The following March,IIPH hosted an international academic conference to identify vulnerable groups and how to prevent such high mortality rates. “Consistent with global climate trends,in May 2010,temperatures rose to 46.8 °C (116.24 °F) in Ahmedabad,making it the highest temperature recorded in the last 40 years,” the researchers said.

The congregation of academics had worried that construction workers,factory labourers,manual labourers who work outdoors (police officers,street vendors,masons,rickshaw drivers),women working in poorly ventilated indoor kitchens,the elderly,extremely young children,newborns and individuals with existing chronic medical conditions (such as heart or lung ailments) are more vulnerable to heat stress.

“Many hospitals do not have adequate cooling systems,including air conditioning,internally. Those few hospitals that do have air conditioning usually concentrate it solely in the obstetrics and gynecology wards for newborns. Also,installed air conditioning that is not adequately calibrated can cause hyperthermia or hypothermia in patients,” they said.

In fact,more than one score newborn babies were shifted from the top floor gynaecology ward of Ahmedabad’s Shardaben Hospital back in the summer of 2010. This year,the hospital has surfaced the roof with China mosaic to ward off the heat.

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