Mansukh Mandaviya, the Union Minister of Health, convened a vital conference on Wednesday with health and disaster response ministers from seven states in reaction to the frightening revelation of 76 suspected heatwave deaths in the Ballia District of Uttar Pradesh. The urgent necessity for these states- Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Odisha, Jharkhand, Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, and Telangana, to create robust action plans aimed at lessening the effects of heatwaves was emphasised by Mandaviya. This meeting was held shortly after Mandaviya presided over an important gathering of centrally located officials and sent teams to the impacted states.
The India Meteorological Department (IMD) reported that on June 22, isolated pockets of the heat wave are anticipated to persist over Vidarbha, Chhattisgarh, and interior Odisha. Highlighting the lack of accurate data from the ground, Union Minister of State for Home Affairs Nityanand Rai urged states to share field-level data on heatwaves, including on deaths and cases, so that a realistic assessment of the situation can be made.
An earlier state government official cited power shortages as one of the causes for patients’ illnesses to worsen prior to being admitted to the district hospital, according to PTI. According to a LocalCircles study, 94% of state residents have experienced power outages in the current month of June. In addition, the poll found that 65% of people in UP experience outages three or more times every day on average.
The states were asked to implement various measures to improve the heat resilience of healthcare facilities during the summit. These included guaranteeing a steady supply of electricity, setting up solar panels to lessen the effects of power outages, and implementing tactics like cool or green roofs and window coverings to reduce internal temperatures.
States were also reminded of two advisories issued by the Union Health Ministry. The first was issued on 28 February 2023 by the Union Health Secretary to all the Chief Secretaries requesting compliance of states of the National Action Plan on Heat-Related Illnesses for effective preparedness of health facilities to address heat impact and management of cases. 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 activity for the public.
The second advisory was issued by the Union Health Ministry in the form of a wider awareness of do’s and don’ts to be followed by the general population as well as vulnerable people. It advised states to use this as a template and translate to regional languages and follow the NPCCHH advisory for employers for workplace preparedness guidance.