Government Emphasizes Awareness and Collaboration For Management of Heatwaves

The Union Health Ministry held a meeting to discuss public health preparedness for managing heat-related illnesses. This meeting was held on April 5, 2024 and a press release was issued on the same day.

The Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare, chaired the meeting, stressing the importance of continuous awareness efforts and effective data collection.

Focus on Data and Awareness:

He highlighted the need for a central database with state-level inputs on heatwave impacts, including cases and deaths. This data, he emphasized, will enable a more realistic assessment of the situation and guide effective response strategies. Early warnings and widespread public awareness campaigns on preventive measures were identified as crucial tools to minimize heatwave severity.

Collaboration for Better Management:

The Union Health Minister also called for stronger coordination between the central government and states. Meetings with state officials will further enhance understanding and collaboration for efficient management of heat-related illnesses.

Strengthening State Action Plans:

The Union Minister of State for Health and Family Welfare, emphasized state and district-level committees’ role in informing and educating the public. Equipping Ayushman Arogya Mandirs (healthcare centers) with water coolers, ice packs, and other essential supplies was also highlighted. States were urged to expedite the implementation of their Heat Action Plans at the field level.

Disseminating Information and Knowledge:

Dr. V K Paul, Member (Health), NITI Aayog, also emphasized the importance of ensuring that states follow established guidelines. He advocated for disseminating knowledge on treatment protocols through webinars and other means. Additionally, he stressed the need for a national repository of data on heat-related illnesses from each state.

Heatwave Forecast and Action Plans:

The India Meteorological Department (IMD) presented a detailed analysis of heatwave patterns, including forecasting, vulnerable zones, and projected rainfall and humidity. Notably, 23 states have updated their Heat Action Plans, and 100 districts have already launched heatwave awareness campaigns.

Preparedness Measures:

The meeting reviewed existing Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for monitoring heatstroke cases and deaths, along with preparedness plans for the summer season, with a particular focus on vulnerable populations. The Ministry informed that advisories emphasizing state compliance with the National Action Plan on Heat Related Illnesses were recently issued to Chief Secretaries. These plans detail essential medicine stockpiling, intravenous fluids, ice packs, ORS solutions, and public awareness campaigns. Additionally, the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has prepared a guide on recommended practices for both the general public and vulnerable individuals during summer months.

Continuous efforts towards raising awareness and fostering collaboration are crucial to effectively managing heatwaves and protecting public health.