Sunday May 29, 2022

NIH issues advisory for schools, health officials

By Our Correspondent
May 15, 2022

Islamabad : The ongoing wave of high environmental temperature in different parts of the country has prompted the National Institute of Health (NIH) to issue an advisory that guides health agencies and educational institutions on ways to prepare for and manage the health risks associated with extremely hot weather.

The objective of the advisory is to sensitize health officials and educational institutions to the need to take timely and appropriate actions for preparedness, response and prevention of incidents of heatstroke.

The advisory provides recommendations on actions to mitigate the effects of extreme heat on students, to reduce the frequency of heat-related illnesses, and to support schools to prepare for and manage risks associated with extreme heat.Children and young people are more susceptible to heat stress and therefore schools must have measures in place to prepare for and manage the risks associated with hot weather.

The advisory proposes the following actions to protect students from heat-related illness:

Physical separation of students by keeping them in a cool indoor environment, and utilization of indoor spaces for activities.

Use of artificial shading (canopies, tents, sails, umbrellas) to shade outdoor play spaces.

Avoidance of materials and surfaces that radiate high amounts of thermal heat, and use of natural surfaces (where allowed).

Increase in the number of water coolers so that students remain hydrated. Making sure that electric fans are in working condition.

Practicing acclimatization. During the acclimatization period, changes occur as the body adapts to the stress of repeated exposure to heat. There is a strong evidence base that acclimatization can reduce heat-injuries.

The advisory, which has been issued on the directions of the Minister for Health Abdul Qadir Patel, is available on the NIH website

“Coordinated and effective measures are being taken to protect people from heat stroke—a medical condition that can be fatal if not treated properly and in time,” Patel expressed in a press statement.

The symptoms of heat stroke include hot and dry skin, weakness or lethargy, fever, headache, and rapid heartbeat. If not treated in time, it can damage organs, and cause disability or even death. Infants, people aged above 65 years, patients with diabetis and high blood pressure, athletes, and outdoor workers are at a higher risk of heat stroke.

The advisory also calls for consumption of more water, avoidance of direct exposure to sunlight, wearing of hat and light coloured loose clothes.