Tuesday, March 5, 2024
HomeEditorialThe heat, the people and the medical fraternity

The heat, the people and the medical fraternity

This week we take a serious look at the heatwaves or hot weather we have been experiencing since the beginning of August which can lead to a health crisis. We view with concern the absence of official messages as public service announcements in the media from our medical fraternity while there are reports of people actually fainting in the streets as a result of the heat. So, this newspaper has decided to turn to the World Health Organisation (WHO) for assistance to avoid heat-related deaths.

According to the WHO, heatwaves are among the most dangerous of natural hazards, but unlike the COVID-19 situation, rarely receive adequate attention because their death tolls and destruction are not always immediately obvious. From 1998-2017, more than 166 000 people died due to heatwaves, including more than 70 000 who died during the 2003 heatwave in Europe. 

Is it true that heatwaves can burden our already stressed health and emergency services, increase strain on water, energy and transportation resulting in power shortages or even blackouts as more air condition units are used and for longer periods. Food and livelihood security may also be strained too if people lose their crops or livestock due to extreme heat. Already we are seeing a shortage of cabbages, carrots, string beans and other short crops at supermarkets.

High on the list of health impacts negatively are – dehydration, kidney diseases, mental illness, respiratory diseases, heat cramps and strokes and heat waves can also amplify existing conditions. So the question is where are the medical doctors on this as the population exposure to heat is increasing due to climate change? Imagine the people who work outside such as people in landscaping, farming, construction and the like.

Except for a few light tips from the meteorological office and the National Disaster Management Authority (NaDMA) which we thank them for, it is concerning that awareness remains insufficient of the health risks posed by heatwaves and prolonged exposure to increased temperatures. We are calling on the health professionals to adjust their planning and interventions to come up with practical, feasible, and low-cost interventions at the individual, community, organizational, governmental and societal levels that can save lives at this time. Here we must also thank Minister Tevin Andrews for bringing about a kindly gesture of making water tanks available to farmers, especially those in the livestock business. Another noteworthy gesture in Carriacou is having the blood pressure machine at Tyrell Bay port up and running at this time; we heap praises on all who are responsible for the move.

The WHO report points to the fact that heat also has important indirect health effects. Heat conditions can alter human behaviour, the transmission of diseases, health service delivery, air quality and critical social infrastructure. Encouraging people to drink more than the recommended eight glasses of water a day, seems to be the popular advice. But we are advising caution since research has shown that people have drowned as a result.

By drinking too much water, one may experience water poisoning, intoxication, or a disruption of brain function. This happens when there’s too much water in the cells (including brain cells), causing them to swell. When the cells in the brain swell they cause pressure in the brain which brings on confusion, drowsiness, and headaches. If this pressure increases it could cause conditions like hypertension (High Blood Pressure) and bradycardia (Low Heart Rate)

Sodium is the electrolyte most affected by over hydration, leading to a condition called hyponatremia. Sodium is a crucial element that helps keep the balance of fluids in and out of cells. When its levels drop due to a high amount of water in the body, fluids get inside the cells. Then the cells swell, which increases the risk of seizures, going into a coma, or even dying. So, workers at daycares for infants and homes for the elderly are especially warned to take note of this and avoid forcing too much water on the people placed in your care – You may be responsible for their deaths! Take this warning seriously! 

In our tradition there are people who still practice chopping up green soursop into small bits and placing them in a pitcher of water which is used as cooling. Roasted dried corn when grated and added to water, can also, in the same fashion, bring similar result of cooling the body. Some seemingly old traditions are still recommended. Medical officials are advising against caffeine, alcohol and excess sugars as they seem to be culprits around this time.

Another area of concern is school sports and physical education at this time which require students to be bare-headed in the sun for long periods. Are the teachers mindful of the adjustments that should be made as a result of the heat waves? Parents should take up the issue when they attend the Parent Teachers Association meetings. They should have the confidence that schools are not applying some kind of superficial approach for the issue at hand. Heatwave is serious business!

We are looking forward to hearing from the Chief Medical Officer and other medical doctors on the issue. Meanwhile, we urge people to try to get help if they feel dizzy, weak, anxious or have intense thirst and headache and move to a cool place as soon as possible and keep measuring your body temperature.

The heat, the people and the medical fraternity

This week we take a serious look at the heatwaves or hot weather we have been experiencing since the beginning of August which can lead to a health crisis. We view with concern the absence of official messages as public service announcements in the media from our medical fraternity while there are reports of people actually fainting in the streets as a result of the heat. So, this newspaper has decided to turn to the World Health Organisation (WHO) for assistance to avoid heat-related deaths.

According to the WHO, heatwaves are among the most dangerous of natural hazards, but unlike the COVID-19 situation, rarely receive adequate attention because their death tolls and destruction are not always immediately obvious. From 1998-2017, more than 166 000 people died due to heatwaves, including more than 70 000 who died during the 2003 heatwave in Europe. 

Is it true that heatwaves can burden our already stressed health and emergency services, increase strain on water, energy and transportation resulting in power shortages or even blackouts as more air condition units are used and for longer periods. Food and livelihood security may also be strained too if people lose their crops or livestock due to extreme heat. Already we are seeing a shortage of cabbages, carrots, string beans and other short crops at supermarkets.

High on the list of health impacts negatively are – dehydration, kidney diseases, mental illness, respiratory diseases, heat cramps and strokes and heat waves can also amplify existing conditions. So the question is where are the medical doctors on this as the population exposure to heat is increasing due to climate change? Imagine the people who work outside such as people in landscaping, farming, construction and the like.

Except for a few light tips from the meteorological office and the National Disaster Management Authority (NaDMA) which we thank them for, it is concerning that awareness remains insufficient of the health risks posed by heatwaves and prolonged exposure to increased temperatures. We are calling on the health professionals to adjust their planning and interventions to come up with practical, feasible, and low-cost interventions at the individual, community, organizational, governmental and societal levels that can save lives at this time. Here we must also thank Minister Tevin Andrews for bringing about a kindly gesture of making water tanks available to farmers, especially those in the livestock business. Another noteworthy gesture in Carriacou is having the blood pressure machine at Tyrell Bay port up and running at this time; we heap praises on all who are responsible for the move.

The WHO report points to the fact that heat also has important indirect health effects. Heat conditions can alter human behaviour, the transmission of diseases, health service delivery, air quality and critical social infrastructure. Encouraging people to drink more than the recommended eight glasses of water a day, seems to be the popular advice. But we are advising caution since research has shown that people have drowned as a result.

By drinking too much water, one may experience water poisoning, intoxication, or a disruption of brain function. This happens when there’s too much water in the cells (including brain cells), causing them to swell. When the cells in the brain swell they cause pressure in the brain which brings on confusion, drowsiness, and headaches. If this pressure increases it could cause conditions like hypertension (High Blood Pressure) and bradycardia (Low Heart Rate)

Sodium is the electrolyte most affected by over hydration, leading to a condition called hyponatremia. Sodium is a crucial element that helps keep the balance of fluids in and out of cells. When its levels drop due to a high amount of water in the body, fluids get inside the cells. Then the cells swell, which increases the risk of seizures, going into a coma, or even dying. So, workers at daycares for infants and homes for the elderly are especially warned to take note of this and avoid forcing too much water on the people placed in your care – You may be responsible for their deaths! Take this warning seriously! 

In our tradition there are people who still practice chopping up green soursop into small bits and placing them in a pitcher of water which is used as cooling. Roasted dried corn when grated and added to water, can also, in the same fashion, bring similar result of cooling the body. Some seemingly old traditions are still recommended. Medical officials are advising against caffeine, alcohol and excess sugars as they seem to be culprits around this time.

Another area of concern is school sports and physical education at this time which require students to be bare-headed in the sun for long periods. Are the teachers mindful of the adjustments that should be made as a result of the heat waves? Parents should take up the issue when they attend the Parent Teachers Association meetings. They should have the confidence that schools are not applying some kind of superficial approach for the issue at hand. Heatwave is serious business!

We are looking forward to hearing from the Chief Medical Officer and other medical doctors on the issue. Meanwhile, we urge people to try to get help if they feel dizzy, weak, anxious or have intense thirst and headache and move to a cool place as soon as possible and keep measuring your body temperature.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

- Advertisment -

Most Popular

Recent Comments