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March 31, 2017

Help sought from private hospitals as city prepares for expected heatwave


March 31, 2017

The city administration on Thursday decided to seek cooperation from major private hospitals to bolster preparations being made in view of an expected heatwave this summer.

It has been decided to establish heatstroke relief centers next month at all major public and private hospitals in the city after the Pakistan Meteorological Department (PMD) warned of a June 2015-like heatwave this year.

Around 3,000 people, mostly elderly persons and children, 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.

The situation grew worse with an acute shortage of water and power in the city and, as a result, thousands of people were taken to hospitals while hundreds could not be treated due to overburdened health facilities.

A couple of days back, temperature in Karachi rose to 38 degrees Celsius. The PMD warned that temperature would rise gradually in Karachi and other cities of Sindh in the following weeks, as the current year would be as warm as the previous two.

“The meteorological department has been asked to issue a warning, at least three days prior to a heatwave in Karachi so that proper measures could be taken to prevent precious lives in the city,” Karachi Commissioner Aijaz Ahmed Khan told a meeting of the deputy commissioners.

Deputy commissioners in all districts of Karachi were directed on Thursday to make arrangements in view of the possible heatwave so that treatment and rehabilitation centers at public and private hospitals could be established in their districts with provision of required medicines, fans, coolers, supplies, and deployment of medical and paramedical staff at the hospitals.

Health authorities have put all the public hospitals in Karachi and other cities of Sindh on high alert but the Karachi administration directed for seeking support from all major private hospitals in the city.

Deputy commissioners of various districts told the meeting that they had prepared and finalised the heatwave management plans for their specific districts, with establishment of heatstroke management camps, first response centres and other measures in their jurisdictions.

The city commissioner also asked the K-Electric to ensure that unnecessary and unscheduled power outages were not carried out in the city. He said power outages further aggravated the situation as the water supply was also affected because of power cuts.

He directed all the institutions to work in close coordination with each other and ensure that citizens were provided necessary facilities so that precious human lives could be saved.

The meeting also decided to launch a tree plantation drive in the city on an emergency basis and in this regard, deputy commissioners were asked to plant at least 10,000 trees in each district.

“Focus should be given on plantation of Neem trees in the city as they provide a relief in extremely hot weather,” the commissioner added.

Representatives from the health and environment departments, the Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre, the Civil Hospital Karachi, the K-Electric, the Provincial Disaster Management Authority (PDMA), and other departments also attended the meeting.

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