BHUBANESWAR: With climate change-driven heat wave posing a natural disaster-like challenge to the State every summer, the Odisha State Disaster Management Authority (OSDMA) is keen on developing an Early Warning System (EWS) to arrest the impact.
In its 'Heat Wave Action Plan for Odisha', the agency has proposed that the India Meteorological Department (IMD) must be supported for development of an EWS. However, before devising the EWS, threshold values for heat wave-related adverse health outcomes should be prepared.
The action plan, which the OSDMA has drafted with support from Indian Institute of Public Health, Bhubaneswar, is pending before the State Government for its approval.
Since heat wave conditions have been impacting a large population both in terms of public health issues and economically, the agency wants that the action plan must include an early warning system. Though the IMD forecasts extreme heat conditions over a short period, a pilot longer term forecast system is proposed. It could be generated through an innovative hybrid of dynamic and statistical models by integrating it into the existing forecasting system of IMD in consultation with international institutes.
The hybrid model, the draft action plan says, would be akin to the European Centre for Medium Range Weather Forecast's Variable Ensemble Prediction System.
The plan of action also proposes that assessment of magnitude of heat wave-related morbidity and mortality be carried out covering the last two decades. Primary and secondary data on number of hospitalisation and deaths would be collected for this purpose. Apart from the information available with Health and Family Welfare Department, other sources such as research papers and media reports would be tapped.
For determining the threshold values for heat wave and EWS, the draft action plan has suggested that an ecological correlation between temperature and heat-related health outcomes would be explored by use of advanced statistical models. The heat wave related deaths would be bracketed into direct, attributable and precipitated categories depending on the medical history of patients. Using these models, an attempt can be made to calculate the morbidity and mortality for better preparedness by people as well as administration.
Similarly, a community vulnerability assessment has also been suggested in the action plan which reveals that though western pockets of the State experience higher levels of temperature, incidence of heat-related illness is higher in coastal districts. Available data show that between 1999 and 2009, Khurda district reported 81 heat wave-related deaths followed by 68 in Dhenkanal, 67 in Ganjam and 56 in Nayagarh. In fact, of the 10 districts which recorded highest casualty figures, eight are located in coastal belt.