The heatwave condition, which has been increasing in India is linked to climate change and the worst part is more and more people are getting exposed to it. India experienced an additional 40 million heatwave exposure events in 2016 as compared to 2012, raising concerns over a “dangerous surge” in negative health impacts, according to a new study. The Lancet Countdown 2018 on Health and Climate Change report, published on Wednesday, says that around the world, each person was exposed to an additional 1.4 days of heat wave between 2000 and 2017, compared to a baseline period between 1986 and 2005.
A briefing paper by the Public Health Foundation of India, based on The Lancet report, said that labor hours lost in India’s agricultural sector increased from about 40,000 million in 2000 to 60,000 million in 2017.
“What we saw in the data shared is that the number, duration, and intensity of heat waves has been increasing in India, particularly in the last decade,” Dr. Poornima Prabhakaran, the deputy director of the Centre for Environmental Health at the Public Health Foundation of India, told the Hindustan Times. “There are spikes in heat wave related morbidity and mortality. Lancet had shared summary datasets with us.”
The Lancet study recommended that Indian authorities identify “heat hot-spots” by properly collecting meteorological data and promoting “timely development and implementation of local Heat Action Plans with strategic inter-agency coordination, and a response which targets the most vulnerable groups”, The Hindu reported. The report also urges India to review its labor laws, occupational health standards and regulations for worker safety with regard to climate.
The frequency, intensity, and duration of heatwave events in India have also increased over the past half-century and the country will likely be among the worst affected by climate change given its “weaker health systems and poorer infrastructure”, the study said. The climate change and the increasing frequency of heatwaves have hit India’s agriculture sector the hardest, where a collective loss of 60,000 million labour hours in 2017, which was about 40,000 million hours in 2000.