Delhi: Union Health Ministry holds review meeting with states on heatwave preparedness

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New Delhi: Union Health Ministry, under the chairmanship of Directorate General of Health Services Dr Atul Goel, conducted a virtual meeting with States/UTs to assess the preparedness for heatwave conditions and fire and electrical safety measures adopted by various healthcare facilities across the country.

As per the long-range outlook forecast issued by the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) on May 27, it is forecasted that in June 2024, above-normal monthly maximum temperatures are likely over most parts of the country, except in parts of the southern peninsular India, where normal to below normal temperatures are most likely.

During June, above-normal heat wave days are likely over most areas of Northwest India and adjoining parts of Central India.
State health departments have been sent directives including — Advisory for State Health Departments, guidelines on Strengthening health systems preparedness for Heat-Related Illnesses (HRI), a public health advisory with “Do’s and Don’ts” and IEC poster templates, guidelines on emergency cooling for severe heat-related illnesses guidelines on Autopsy Findings in Heat-Related Deaths were disseminated to all AIIMS and Medical Colleges across the country, joint communication from Secretary (Health), MoHFW and NDMA and communication from Directorate General of Health Services on health facility fire safety measures and checklist for assessment of health facility and ambulance preparedness to prevent and manage health impacts of heat.

Through a letter sent on March 23, 2024, states and UTs have been requested to take proactive measures to prevent devastating incidents caused by extreme heat. It was informed that the highest-level officials of all State/UTs are monitoring the situation stringently. States like Madhya Pradesh have undertaken mock-drill exercises on fire-safety accidents in all Government and Private Hospitals. Urban Administration and Engineering departments were coordinated for conducting mock drills regarding fire safety. Code Red Protocol has also been issued. Heat Wave Control rooms have been established across the state of Odisha. DASTAK (Door-to-door) campaign is being conducted to raise awareness of the population in Uttar Pradesh. Fire Safety Officers are identified in almost all health facilities in this state. Haryana has made a dedicated financial allocation to ensure essential drugs and logistics at all healthcare facilities.

In Rajasthan, ambulances linked to 104 and 108 are equipped with cooling appliances. In West Bengal, fire safety certificates are ensured by fire departments and mock drills are being conducted. In Bihar, coordination is ongoing with the State Disaster Management Authority for Preventing fire incidents at Health care facilities.

Delhi has also issued directives and SOPs for firefighting systems to all government and private hospitals. If fire NOC is not available even in smaller facilities, either in government/private institutes, fire evacuation plans and firefighting systems have been made mandatory to be kept in place.

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