Friday July 19, 2024

Amid heat wave, schoolchildren fainting, reporting nosebleeds

By Jamila Achakzai
June 03, 2024
School children carry an umbrella to protect themselves from scorching sun during hot weather on  May 29, 2024. — PPI
School children carry an umbrella to protect themselves from scorching sun during hot weather on May 29, 2024. — PPI 

Islamabad:A heat wave is gripping the Islamabad Capital Territory, posing serious health risks to schoolchildren.

With the maximum daytime temperature reaching 42 degrees Celsius in the capital city, reports of minor students fainting and experiencing nosebleeds have surged in the last one week, especially in primary classes.

The children enrolled in Islamabad model schools in Chak Shahzad, I-10 and I-9, as well as Islamabad model colleges for girls in G-10/2 and F-7/4, have complained about epistaxis, vomiting, lack of appetite, and headaches, much to the concern of their parents. Recently, students at Islamabad Model School Dhoke Gangal fell unconscious in their classrooms, prompting teachers to intervene and provide them with medical aid.

"We [staff members] quickly intervened, shifted the affected students to the staff room, and provided them with water and medical aid," a teacher of the G-10/2 College told 'The News'. A teacher from another college also expressed concern, saying the extreme heat was taking a toll on students. She said that as temperatures continued to soar, it was imperative that authorities take prompt action to ensure students' health and safety.

"While schools have adjusted their schedule to start at 7:30 a.m. and end at 11:30 a.m. and cancelled outdoor activities like morning assembly and sports, more needs to be done to address this pressing issue," she said. Parents complained that, despite the widespread nature of those incidents, many schools didn't disclose them.

"These cases are not isolated. Almost every school is affected by the heat wave, but not only are authorities silent, but they're doing nothing to protect the health of our small children," insisted Jamaluddin Khan, father of a nine-year-old girl student. He complained that the Federal Directorate of Education, the regulator for Islamabad's public schools, had adjusted teaching hours for younger students in light of the extreme heat instead of announcing an early summer break, unlike provincial governments.

A student's mother, Jehan Aara, said usually, schools and colleges were closed for summer vacation in the first week of June, but since the country, including Islamabad, was in the grip of a heat wave, an earlier start to the holidays was expected this year. "The education ministry hasn't lived up to our [parents'] expectations as the schools are open despite intense heat, which threatens the health of minor students," she said.

The teacher also complained about power cuts in schools and said the ministry acknowledged the issue and even requested the power ministry for smooth electric supply, but action on the request was awaited. Doctors have reported a high heat stroke incidence due to the rising temperatures and said many of those cases were children.

They urged people, especially children, to stay indoors, drink plenty of water, and avoid non-essential travel during the daytime. “Heat stroke is a potentially life-threatening condition that occurs when the body’s temperature rises too rapidly, leading to unconsciousness, disability, or even death in severe cases,” Dr. Wasim Khwaja told 'The News'.

The Pakistan Meteorological Department has forecast rainfall for a few days but warned that the heat wave would return afterwards. When contacted, the Education Secretary stated that given the current weather conditions, children are safer in schools. He explained that the weather is going to cool down starting this week, and the school holidays will proceed as scheduled from 15 June. He also addressed the rumours, stating that there are no reports of children facing heatstroke problems.