The Maharashtra Health Department has appointed health officers at election booths in the four Lok Sabha constituencies in Pune district in case there are incidents of heat-related illnesses during the elections. The taluka health officers will serve as the key nodal communication contact points at election booths, where they will take preventive measures and deal with emergency cases.
Dr Dilip Mane, Pune district health officer, told The Indian Express that a circular to this effect has been sent to all election and health officials.
In the last fortnight, there have been 11 cases of heat-related illnesses — mainly from Nagpur, Dr Pradip Awate, state surveillance officer told The Indian Express. Since the elections are scheduled in the hot summer months of April and May, such cases are expected to rise.
In 2018, there were 538 cases of heat-related illnesses and two deaths from Amravati in Maharashtra. The maximum number of cases were from Nagpur (414) followed by 73 in Akola, 35 in Latur and 14 in Nashik. “There has been a suspected case of death but our audit team has yet to confirm whether it was due to heat stroke,” said Awate.
With the India Meteorological Department (IMD) indicating the probability of above-normal summer temperatures this year, a workshop was held by the state health department and the National Disaster Management Authority on implementing heat action plans.
Dr Dileep Mavalankar, member of the technical expert committee on NDMA, said as the temperatures will rise, leading to stronger and longer heat waves, it helps to be prepared. Also, timely and accurate warnings and their dissemination to vulnerable populations will ensure effective mitigation of heat related risks. These issues were discussed during the workshop on early warning, forecasting and preparedness.
Among those susceptible to heat stroke include infants, the elderly and individuals who work outside and physically exert themselves under the sun, Awate said. A list of do’s and don’ts have been issued to district hospitals, primary health centres and rural hospitals across the state on what measures should be taken, as cooling the person affected by the heat is a critical treatment measure.
Due to polling in four phases in April in the state, a list of taluka health officers has been sent to election officers and first-aid kits with ORS and other medications will be provided in emergency situations and will also be kept at polling booths, Mane added.