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Centre asks hospitals to keep beds ready for any heat wave exigency

A day after the Election Commission (EC) set up a task force to review the impact of the heat wave during the ongoing Lok Sabha election, health secretary Apurva Chandra on Tuesday had a review meeting over the situation of heat waves with other senior officials of the ministry.

During the meeting, Chandra also took stock of the present status of hospitals across India. “Concerned officials have been asked to take all required steps to keep hospital beds available for any urgent situation,” a senior official present in the meeting told ETV Bharat.

Of late, hospitals in several states have started receiving maximum complaints related to heat waves.

Chandra, according to the official, instructed the members present in the meeting to give special attention to the heat wave affected States.

“The health ministry is in close contact with the India Meteorological Department to know about the present scenario on heat waves,” the official informed.

It is worth mentioning that the health ministry has recently issued a public health advisory in view of the heat waves asking people to follow some instructions to protect themselves from heat waves. The ministry in its advisory asked people to stay hydrated, stay alert, stay indoor and stay indoor.

Referring to vulnerable populations like infants, pregnant women, physically ill, the ministry has also asked for special attention to this category of people.

Impact of heat waves
Heat waves adversely affect human and animal lives. Altered mental sensorium with disorientation, confusion and agitation, irritability, ataxia, seizure or coma are some of the severe symptoms when someone is affected by heat waves. Some other impacts of heat waves include hot, red and dry skin, throbbing headache, anxiety, dizziness, fainting and lightheadedness, muscle weakness or cramps, nausea and vomiting and rapid heartbeat as well as shallow breathing.

Health experts view
Talking to ETV Bharat, director-internal medicine at Delhi’s Max hospital Dr Monica Mahajan said that fatigue and muscle cramp are the basic symptoms of heat waves. People get easily tired and get cramp and pain in the muscle along with weakness and lethargy. The most severe is stroke which also occurs due to heat waves, she said.

“At the moment we have started getting complaints from people about tiredness, muscle pain when they get exposed to the heat. Gastroenteritis and diarrhea started to happen due to heat and food poisoning. More dehydration related cases have started coming,” said Dr Monica.

She said that increase in terms of hydration, lots of fresh lemont, water, and juices is necessary for people to consume to get protected from heat waves. “People need to take food which is freshly made. Food which may not be hygienically prepared, needs to be avoided. Raw salad eating outside should be avoided,” Dr Monica added.

What is heat wave and its criteria
Qualitatively, a heat wave is a condition of air temperature which becomes fatal to the human body when exposed. Quantitatively, it is defined based on the temperature thresholds over a region in terms of actual temperature or its departure from normal. Heat wave is considered if the maximum temperature of a station reaches at least 40°C or more for plains and at least 30°C or more for hilly regions.

Period of heat waves and affected states
Heat waves occur mainly during March to June and in some rare cases even in July. The peak month of the heat wave over India is May. Heat waves generally occur over plains of northwest India, Central, East & north Peninsular India during March to June. It covers Punjab, Haryana, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, West Bengal, Odisha, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Gujarat, parts of Maharashtra & Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. Sometimes it occurs over Tamil Nadu & Kerala also. However, maximum temperatures more than 45°C are observed mainly over Rajasthan and Vidarbha region in the month of May. ETV Bharat

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