Heat Waves, as Deadly as Disease
As summer hits full on, many of us take refuge indoors from the heat and the beating sun. Our cool air conditioning (AC) and fans wick away the sweat. However, for many people in developing countries, it is not an option to stay cool.
People lack access to electricity or a reliable source of it; therefore, they cannot run air conditioning or a fan. In India, there are millions in such a state. Many people have jobs that require them to toil outside in the heat with no shelter: tending crops, selling products by the street, driving rickshaws, washing clothes and even wandering looking for work. They cannot just take a day off from work because it is hot. They need the money to support their family.
Pakistan and India seem to be the hardest hit by these heat waves. Just recently the heat waves in Pakistan have killed over 800 people and close to 1,700 people died during May in India. Temperatures recorded were as high as 113 degrees, some of the highest since the mid-90s.
Pakistan’s citizens complain about the power shortages due to the fact that everyone is running their AC units. When there is no power, everyone suffers from the heat. No one can escape. There is also an extreme shortage of water. Not to mention in other places there is a lack of clean water to drink. Without access to water, the body has an even more difficult time dealing with the heat.
Pakistan’s government deployed the military to set up heat stroke centers around the country to deal with the heat waves. Many of the hospitals both in India and Pakistan are overwhelmed with people. The morgues are full. Doctors are on the clock 24/7 treating patients.
With such a strain on the health centers and hospitals, there needs to be plans to cope with extreme heat waves. There should be awareness to help people understand how to stay cool in such heat as well as places to get water and protection form the sun and the heat.
Ahmedabad, a city in India, has taken on a plan similar to this. They have installed a campaign to educate people through radio, television and newspaper. Health centers have stocks of ice packs and liquids to help rehydrate and cool heat stroke victims. While no city can avoid the heat and the unfortunate deaths caused by it, Ahmedabad’s program has helped to keep the death toll down.
– Katherine Hewitt