Nadda directs govt hospitals to open heatwave units, asks states to submit data on cases and deaths

The directions were given following a review meeting held by Union Health Minister J P Nadda on Wednesday.
Youngsters cool themselves in a pond as Delhi reels under heatwave (Photo | Parveen Negi/EPS)
Youngsters cool themselves in a pond as Delhi reels under heatwave (Photo | Parveen Negi/EPS)

NEW DELHI: In the absence of any official data on the number of cases and deaths caused by the heatwave in the country, the Centre on Wednesday asked states to start submitting the data from all health facilities daily and to investigate suspected heat-related deaths.

It also asked the states to disseminate early warnings of heatwaves issued by the India Meteorological Department (IMD) daily after 4 p.m., with forecasts for the next four days, to health facilities and vulnerable populations.

The directions were given following a review meeting held by Union Health Minister J P Nadda on Wednesday.

The minister also said special heatwave units should be started in central government hospitals.

Following his direction, the Union Health Ministry issued an advisory to the states and Union Territories.

In the meeting, the minister directed officials to ensure that hospitals are prepared to provide the best healthcare to those affected.

“Start daily submission of data on heat stroke cases and deaths, emergency attendance and total deaths from March 1 on the IHIP portal under National Programme on Climate Change and Human Health,” the advisory to the states said.

“Submit data from health facilities, PHC and above, through the designated form (aggregate/patient-level) using P-form level entry,” it added.

Youngsters cool themselves in a pond as Delhi reels under heatwave (Photo | Parveen Negi/EPS)
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It also said that states should ensure the maintenance of digital line lists of heatstroke cases and deaths (suspected/confirmed) at the health facility/hospital level.

The advisory said they should investigate suspected heat-related illness death by a medical officer/epidemiologist for each case.

Cases with suspected heat stroke should be rapidly assessed and actively cooled using standard treatment protocols.

The ministry told the states that health departments must ensure preparedness and timely response to reduce the health impacts of extreme heat.

"Consider heat-related illnesses in health surveillance, medical management and response planning," the advisory said.

The ministry said state nodal officers under the National Programme for Climate Change and Human Health (NPCCHH) must ensure the dissemination of guidelines to all districts.

These guidelines included a national action plan on heat-related illnesses, strengthening health systems preparedness for HRI in India, and following the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) guidelines for preparing an action plan for the prevention and management of heat waves.

The ministry also directed the states to implement heat-health action plans and support implementation at district-specific and city-level heat-health action plans for focused preparedness and response.

It also asked the states to organise a task force meeting to update and approve the heat-health action plan at the state/district levels.

It added that this plan should detail the ‘Standard Operating Procedures’ that shall be in place during the heatwave season.

The states were told to sensitise and conduct capacity building for medical officers and healthcare staff of health facilities on HRI symptoms, case identification, clinical management, emergency cooling and surveillance reporting.

“Community health workers should be trained on public awareness measures, personal cooling measures, HRI identification, first aid, referral, and reporting,” the advisory further said.

They were also asked to ensure that health facilities are prepared to prevent and manage severe HRI and have an adequate supply of ORS packs, essential medicines, IV fluids, ice packs, and equipment to manage volume depletion, electrolyte imbalance, etc.

States were advised to identify active cooling strategies that can be used at health facilities and field levels based on available resources, develop internal protocols, train health care staff, and identify/procure resources at health facilities and for ambulances to ensure emergency and rapid cooling of severe heat-related illness patients.

The Centre has issued several advisories to the states and UTs since May.

The Director General of Health Services (DGHS) again wrote to states on Wednesday and asked central government hospitals in Delhi, all AIIMS, and state government institutions to ensure that all health professionals, ambulances, and health facilities give immediate attention to such HRI patients.

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