Medical &Health

Protracted heat wave fills hospitals with patients

DHAKA, May 27, 2017 (BSS) - Lack of expected downpour lingers the nationwide heat wave, triggering an apparent health problem with increased number of people reporting to hospitals with high fever, diarrhea, pneumonia and sunstroke every day.

Meteorologists said the mild heat wave did not allow the mercury level to come down below 36 degrees Celsius for nearly two weeks while they recorded highest 39 degrees Celsius during the period and feared the hot spell to continue until the end of May.

"The temperature level is normal for this part of the year but it continues at a stretch due to lack of expected rainfall, which appears a bit unusual," meteorologist Hafizur Rahman told BSS.

He said the met office records suggest a slight but gradual increase of temperature in the past 50 years as part of a global trend "which could be linked to the climate change".

Health officials, on the other hand, said the hospitals including the Dhaka-based International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research, Bangladesh (ICDDR,B) and the Pediatric Hospital at Agargaon are used to serve more patients during the summer time but the patients' onrush due to the continued hot spell this year is unusual.

They said poor working people like day laborers were worst victims as they need to remain exposed to sun for longer periods while several workers like rickshaw pullers said they need to take frequent breaks as the hot spell do not allow them to work for longer period at a stretch.

The Pediatric Hospital said the treated 9,528 children since May 15 this year while they were reporting in increased number everyday.

"Generally children are worst sufferer of excessive hot weather as they cannot tolerate hot weather," Dr SC Mazumder of the facility commented.

ICDDR,B's Short Stay unit chief Dr Azharul Islam said nearly 550 to 600 patients were visiting the facility every day "which is higher than the expected number of diarrhea patients during this period". He said since the prolonged heat wave was the main cause of the outbreak of the disease "we don't expect their number to decrease until the hot spell ends".

The health expert said the abnormally hot weather in tropical Bangladesh create grounds for food and water contamination exposing mostly the poor people to health dangers and "we, therefore, should be extra careful about food and water during this period".

A significant number of patients, who are suffering from fever, diarrhea, pneumonia, reported to different private and public hospitals while health experts suggested all to try to stay indoors in possible cases or move out with protection against the scorching sun, covering their heads and bodies under umbrella to avoid sunstroke.

The met office, however, could not assure countrymen of any immediate respite saying they expected the much cherished downpour to occur not before the first week of the next month.

The country's maximum temperature 37 degree Celsius was recorded at Satkhira on Friday while the minimum 21.5 degree Celsius at Rajarhat today.

High daytime and night-time temperatures, high humidity, warm sunshine and a lack of winds are making lives miserable, especially of those who have to work under the blazing sun or live in non-air-conditioned houses.

Situation is even worse in rural areas, particularly in northern parts of the country, as people have to spend more time in their farmland during the blistering heat.

Roads, market places and busy places in both rural and urban areas largely appear deserted as people prefer to stay indoors.

Source: Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha (BSS)