Academic journal article Perspectives in Public Health

Record Heat Wave Grips Pakistan in 2015

Academic journal article Perspectives in Public Health

Record Heat Wave Grips Pakistan in 2015

Article excerpt

Dear Editor,

An intense heat wave struck the southern regions of Pakistan on 18th June 2015. The death toll soared up to 2,000 by 24th June 2015 as Karachi and other parts of Sindh continued to sizzle at temperatures of 45°C.1 A government official claimed that approximately 65,000 people had sought medical care related to heat exhaustion or heat stroke in numerous hospitals scattered across Karachi since 20th June 2015.1 A similar grievous heat wave had earlier struck the neighbouring India in May 2015 and claimed as many as 2,330 lives.2

The heat wave of 2015 recorded the highest number of casualties in the last two decades in Pakistan. The recent deadly heat wave gripped Pakistan during the holy month of Ramadan when Muslims fast during daylight. Many heat stroke patients suffered complications as they refused medical treatment because of religious reasons. Prolonged power cuts, which at times lasted for 12 hours, further aggravated their plight. The Pakistani government asserted that the heat wave had occurred due to rapid deforestation, urbanisation and construction of coal power plants in the neighbouring Indian province of Rajasthan.

Heat stroke is the most critical of all heat-related illnesses and can be easily prevented by proper precautionary measures. It is a life-threatening condition which occurs when the core body temperature rises above 40°C. Symptoms of heat stroke include high fever, hot skin, headaches, dizziness, tachycardia, convulsions and unconsciousness. It is a medical emergency and immediate medical care should be sought. Patients with appropriate treatment recover rapidly within 1-2 hours but should be monitored for late-onset rhabdomyolysis, renal failure and other complications. …

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