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Coordinated efforts can ensure zero death: Mandaviya reviews heatwave situation in 7 states

‘Sharing of ideas, expertise and best practices by states help in enriching everyone in effectively managing heat-related illnesses’

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NEW DELHI, June 21 (PTI): Effective disaster response and management is collaborative work and with coordinated actions between the Centre and states, it can be ensured there are no deaths due to heatwaves, Union health minister Mansukh Mandaviya said on Wednesday.

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Mandaviya chaired a high-level meeting to review the public health preparedness for management of heat-related illnesses and virtually interacted with state health ministers, state disaster management ministers and principal secretaries/additional chief secretaries and information commissioners of seven states (Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Odisha, Jharkhand, Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Telangana) which are experiencing severe heatwave conditions.

Mandaviya said that “India has demonstrated during the recent preparedness measures for cyclone Biparjoy that timely and effective coordination between the Centre and states can produce the desired outcome”.

“Sharing of ideas, expertise and best practices by states help in enriching everyone in effectively managing heat-related illnesses,” he added.

He urged the states to implement the State Action Plan, based on the National Action Plan, at the ground levels with a timely warning to the people, and ensure preventive preparedness to reduce the severe impact of heatwave.

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The Union health minister also advised the states that have not yet prepared the action plan to do so urgently detailing specific field level action and ensure effective implementation of the same.

Mandaviya stated that heat alerts and forecasts from the India Meteorological Department (IMD) are amplified and shared with all states daily by the Union Health Ministry and urged the states to develop training manuals on heat and health for state officials, medical officers and health workers.

“State-level trainers need to ensure that their training is up to field level. Capacity building of medical officers, health staff and sensitization of grassroots level workers on heat illness, with focus on early recognition and management using training manuals provided by the Union Health Ministry is crucial,” he stated.

States were advised to increase resilience to extreme heat at health facilities level by ensuring uninterrupted electricity supply; installation of solar panels and adopting measures to reduce indoor heat through installation of cool/green roof, window shading, shades, etc., according to a statement issued by the health ministry.

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Nityanand Rai, Union minister of state for home affairs, was present at the meeting, while Dr Bharati Pravin Pawar, Union minister of state for health, S P Baghel, Union minister of state for health, and Dr V K Paul, Member (Health) of NITI Aayog, were present in the virtual mode.

State ministers who joined the high level review meeting included Shahnawaz, disaster management minister (Bihar); Banna Gupta, health and disaster management minister (Jharkhand); Pratima, disaster management minister (Odisha); Harish Rao, health minister (Telangana); Anup Valmiki, disaster management minister (Uttar Pradesh); and Mayaneshwar Singh, minister of state for health (Uttar Pradesh).

These ministers thanked Mandaviya for the timely review meeting and his continuous support to the states.

Highlighting the lack of accurate data from the ground, Rai urged the states to share field level data on heatwaves, including on deaths and cases, so that a realistic assessment of the situation can be made.

He also underlined the importance of timely action as soon as the IMD alerts are received in the states. “Timely, advance and wide awareness among the people on the preventive measures will hugely support in reducing the severe impact of such heatwaves,” he said.

A granular status and analysis of overall heat stroke cases and deaths in India and heat-related illness in the seven affected states was made by the Union Health Ministry officials covering the trajectory of total emergency OPD; suspected and confirmed heatstroke cases and deaths; and their reporting, as per Integrated Health Information Platform (IHIP) portal.

It was pointed out that the National Action Plan on heat-related illness, released in July 2021, outlined the challenges posed by heatwave, heat-related illnesses and their management from primary to tertiary level; the SOPs for surveillance of heat stroke cases and deaths; and preparedness plan before and during summer season, with special emphasis on heat-related illness in vulnerable sections.

The states were also reminded of two advisories issued by the Union Health Ministry.

The first was issued on February 28, 2023 by the Union Health Secretary to all the chief secretaries requesting compliance by the states of the National Action Plan on heat-related illnesses for effective preparedness of health facilities to address heat impact and management of cases. The states were also advised to review health facility preparedness in terms of essential medicines, intravenous fluids, ice-packs, ORS, drinking water as well as IEC (information, education and communication) activity for the public.

The second advisory was issued by the ministry in the form of a wider awareness of dos and don’ts to be followed by the general public as well as the vulnerable people.

It advised states to use this as a template and translate into regional languages and follow the National Programme on Climate Change and Human Health (NPCCHH) advisory for employers for workplace preparedness guidance.

 

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The Hills Times, a largely circulated English daily published from Diphu and printed in Guwahati, having vast readership in hills districts of Assam, and neighbouring Nagaland, Meghalaya, Arunachal Pradesh and Manipur.
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