Fearing a 2015-like heatwave this summer, hospitals put on high alert
Fearing that there could be a severe heatwave in Karachi and other parts of the province this summer similar to the one in June 2015 which had killed over 3,000 people in the city, health authorities have put all public hospitals in Sindh on high alert after the weather turned unexpectedly hot in Karachi and the rest of province on Monday and Tuesday.
Medical superintendents have been directed to make arrangements for any eventuality, especially a heatwave.
Around 3000 people had died in just a week in June 2015 when the temperature in Karachi rose to 48 degrees Celsius but on the heat index (the feeling of heat on human skin) was measured at around 64 degrees Celsius. Most public and private hospitals were not prepared to deal with thousands of heatwave patients.
Karachi witnessed an extremely hot day on Monday when the mercury touched 38 degrees Celsius and on Tuesday, Nawabshah, Larkana and some other parts of the province experienced extremely hot weather, compelling health authorities to prepare themselves in case there is a heatwave like the one two years ago.
In a letter to the medical superintendants of major public hospitals in Karachi, the city’s health director Dr Muhammad Taufiq Chaudhry directed them to prepare for a heatwave in the coming days.
“We are expecting the same situation this year. Keeping the previous situation in mind and to tackle it, we have to prepare ourselves,” he wrote in the letter.
Dr Chaudhry asked the medical superintendents to come up with a heatstroke management plan within the next 24 hours, set up separate wards for heatstroke patients, make arrangements for the necessary medicines and drips and deploy medical and paramedical staff in case of an emergency.
In another letter to the district health officers and medical superintendents of hospitals in other parts of the province, similar instructions were issued.
The Pakistan Meteorological Department said this year’s summer would be as warm as it was in 2015.
Met Karachi director Abdur Rashid said it would remain between “warm to very warm” in the city and the rest of the province in April and May. After that, the temperature will increase even further.
He advised citizens to remain prepared for the summer, avoid staying too long outside during daytime, use plenty of water and cover their heads and wear loose and light-coloured clothes when going outside to prevent a heatstroke.
The official said special care should be taken by the elderly people and children, who are more vulnerable to a heatwave. “Elderly people faint in case of extreme hot weather and high humidity,” he added.