New Delhi [India]: The Union Health Ministry issued an advisory to the States and Union Territories urging them to disseminate the guideline document ‘National Action Plan on Heat-Related Illnesses’ to all districts for effective management of heat-related issues amid the rising temperatures.
A letter written by Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan said, “I would request you to disseminate the guideline document ‘National Action Plan on Heat-Related Illnesses’ to all Districts for effective management of cases of heatwave. From 1 March 2022, daily surveillance on heat-related illnesses has been initiated under Integrated Disease Surveillance Programme (IDSP) in all States and Districts. Please ensure that these daily surveillance reports are shared with NCDC. The daily heat alerts which are being shared by IMD as well as NCDC with States indicate forecast of heatwave for next 3-4 days and may be disseminated promptly at district/health facility level.”
Bhushan also mentioned that the Health Department of the State must continue efforts on sensitization and capacity building of medical officers, health staff, and grass-root level workers on heat illness, its early recognition and management. Health facility preparedness must be reviewed for the availability of adequate quantities of essential medicines, I.V. fluids, ice packs, ORS and all necessary equipment. Availability of sufficient drinking water at all health facilities and continued functioning of cooling appliances in critical areas must be ensured.
Union Health Ministry also added, “Health facilities need to increase resilience to extreme heat by arranging uninterrupted electricity for constant functioning of cooling appliances, installation of solar panels (wherever feasible), measures to reduce indoor heat through cool/green roof (NDMA guidelines may be referred), window shades, shade outside, etc. Rain water harvesting and recycling plants may also be explored for self-sufficiency in water.”
As per the letter, States may also utilise Information, Education and Communication (IEC) as well as Community Level Awareness materials regarding the precautions to be taken by the population to safeguard themselves against heatwave.
“A standard template of Public Health Advisory incorporating Do’s and Don’ts is there. This document could be used as a template and customized to suit local needs as well as translated into local languages for wider dissemination,” the letter highlighted.
Bhushan in the letter did state that the seasonal and monthly outlook from Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) for March-May 2022 predicts above normal maximum temperatures over many areas of the country and much higher temperatures in Central, Western and Northern parts of the Country.
“Temperatures have already touched 46 degree Celsius at some places and deviation up to 6 degrees Celsius from expected normal temperatures have also been reported. I draw your attention to National Action Plan on Heat Related Illnesses” (released in July 2021)”, stated the letter from Ministry.
“In addition, I also draw your attention to an Advisory issued by this Ministry on 15
March 2022 for health facilities on heat related illnesses, symptoms, management, preparedness, record maintenance and surveillance. This was followed by another communication from NCDC to all States in April 2022 regarding need to escalate heat resilience measures in health facilities. An inter-sectoral meeting on this subject was also chaired by Member Secretary, NDMA in mid-April 2022 where all Principal Secretaries of Revenue Departments of States participated,” Union health secretary said. (ANI)