110 deaths and over forty thousand suspected cases of heatstroke in India

Officials said that the number of deaths due to heatstroke could be higher on further scrutiny as the data is still being compiled.
Delhi heatwave
Delhi heatwavePhoto | Express

NEW DELHI: The unrelenting heat wave has killed at least 110 people across the country and has left over 40,000 people grappling with suspected heat stroke between March 1 and June 18, official sources said on Thursday.

According to ministry sources, Uttar Pradesh is the worst affected, followed by Bihar, Rajasthan, and Odisha.

According to the data compiled under the National Heat-Related Illness and Death Surveillance by the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), on June 18, six deaths due to heat stroke were confirmed.

On Wednesday, Union Health Minister J.P. Nadda held a review meeting and directed states and union territories to submit these data from all health facilities daily and investigate suspected heat-related deaths by medical officers.

The direction came in the absence of any official data on cases and deaths due to heat stroke in the country.

Officials said that they are still compiling the data submitted by the states, so the numbers could be higher upon further scrutiny.

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The minister also asked the states to disseminate early warnings of heat waves 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.

He also said special heat wave units should be started in the central government hospitals to cater to those falling ill due to heat stroke.

Northern and eastern India have been in the grip of an intense heat wave, leading to increasing heat stroke casualties.

Following Nadda’s directions, the union health ministry also issued an advisory for the State Health Department on the 'Heat Wave Season 2024'.

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

They have been asked to ensure the dissemination of the National Action Plan on Heat-Related Illnesses (HRI) to all districts and strengthen health systems preparedness for HRI.

The advisory also directed health facility preparedness for the prevention and management of severe HRI and procurement and supply of adequate quantities of ORS packs, essential medicines, IV fluids, ice packs, and equipment to support the management of volume depletion, electrolyte imbalance, etc.

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It also called for ensuring the availability of sufficient drinking water at all health facilities, general cooling appliances in waiting and patient treatment areas, and their functioning, and stressed that cases with suspected heatstroke should be rapidly assessed and actively cooled using standard treatment protocols.

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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