Be prepared to beat the heat: Health ministry to states


The government Thursday asked all states and union territories to immediately implement the heat health action plan to ensure safety of people amid rising temperatures that are triggering intense heatwaves across the country.In a virtual meeting chaired by director general of health services in the health ministry Dr Atul Goel, the government asked states and UTs to assess preparedness of healthcare facilities in all districts, check availability of ambulances and set up dedicated heat stroke rooms at all healthcare facilities as part of the plan.

It also directed the states to ensure that people are forewarned about the heatwave forecasts issued by India Meteorological Department (IMD).

Besides, the health ministry asked the states for sensitisation and capacity building of medical officers and healthcare staff on heat-related illness symptoms, case identification, clinical management, emergency cooling and surveillance reporting.

It also directed the states to have in place appropriate fire prevention measures, such as proper storage of flammable materials and regular and optimal preventive maintenance of electrical circuits and systems.

“Providing staff training on fire safety protocols, evacuation procedures, and use of fire-fighting equipment,” the ministry said in a statement, listing detailed measures and steps to be undertaken by states. “Installation and optimum maintenance of fire detection and suppression systems, including smoke alarms, fire extinguishers, and sprinklers.”The state health departments were also advised to issue advisory and guidelines on strengthening the health system’s preparedness for heat-related illnesses and for conducting regular mock emergency drills “without compromise”.Health officials were also told to establish an emergency response plan with SOPs for evacuating patients, staff, and visitors in the event of a fire, it said.

The ministry had in May, and before that in March, asked the states to take proactive measures to prevent incidents caused by extreme heat and to take all preventive measures in respect to fire safety.

As per the forecast issued by IMD on May 27, above-normal monthly maximum temperatures are likely in June over most parts of the country, except in parts of southern peninsular India, where normal to below normal temperatures are most likely.

During June, above normal heatwave days are likely over most areas of northwest India and adjoining parts of central India.

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