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Experts suggest special care of children, elderly amid soaring heat

Kamrul Hasan
06 Jun 2023 00:00:00 | Update: 06 Jun 2023 00:09:07
Experts suggest special care of children, elderly amid soaring heat
A floating vendor in Dhaka sells battery-run portable fans to customers as the scorching heat has become unbearable, leaving people severely suffering– Shamsul Haque Ripon

As the country has been grappling due to excessive heat and rising temperature over the last few weeks, health experts have recommended taking special care of children and elderly people across the country.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the population exposure to heat is increasing significantly due to climate change and this trend will continue.

During extremely hot weather, ensuring pure drinking water becomes difficult in the country when children and people aged over 60 should get special protection, they said while talking to the reporter of The Business Post.

Some populations are more exposed to, or more physiologically or socio-economically vulnerable to physiological stress, exacerbated illness and an increased risk of death from exposure to excess heat, WHO stated, adding that, these include the elderly, infants and children, pregnant women, outdoor and manual workers, athletes, and the poor.

Associate Professor Dr AFM Saidur Rahman, head of the Medicine Department at ZH Sikder Women’s Medical College Hospital, said that in the case of Bangladesh, children and elderly people should be at the centre of attention.

Currently, people of all ages can be affected, not only by the excessive heat but also by the unsafe sources of drinking water and juices like sugarcane juice, and lemon juices which are available on the streets, he stated.

Young people however can narrowly manage to escape the adverse impact of the sudden rise in temperature which is quite difficult for elderly people, he explained, adding that “Rapid rise in temperature compromises the body’s ability to regulate with high temperature and poses different health risks including heat cramps, heat exhaustion, heatstroke and hyperthermia.”

Due to the sweltering heat, the number of elderly patients have been increasing significantly in hospitals in the last few days, he said. But the country has to brace for more hot days as the weather is likely to remain dry for the next few days according to the Bangladesh Meteorological Department (BMD).

“So, children and elderly people should get special care and avoid direct contact with sunlight and drink an adequate amount of safe drinking water”, Dr Saidur Rahman opined.

According to the weather scientists of BMD, the intense heat wave commenced in the last week of May and is likely to continue for a few more days while rain is expected to occur in mid-June. Besides, a high rate of humidity in the air would provide a more intense feeling of heat amid the severe heat wave which is sweeping over several regions across the country.

On the other hand, Prof Dr Syed Shafi Ahmed, head of the Department of pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition of Bangladesh Institute of Child Health, said that currently, the number of patients admitted to hospitals is normally compared to the average time but children suffering from diarrhoea, cold-related diseases, food poisoning, viral fever, dysentery, dehydration and heatstroke are on the rise.

“With time, more patients with hot temperature-related diseases are coming to the institute”, he added.

According to Prof Dr Syed Shafi Ahmed, taking children out of their homes, and giving them unpurified juices from the streets, junk foods and seasonal fruits contaminated with chemicals, are causing rapid ailments.

Again excessive heat is also accelerating the decomposition process of food which are unhealthy and causing numerous cases of food poisoning among children, he stated.

While talking about the possible solutions to the situation both the experts recommend the same.

Dr Saidur suggested taking more and more pure drinking water from time to time.

“The room temperature should be kept below 32 degrees Celsius during the day and 24 degree Celsius at night otherwise there should be alternative arrangements to reduce the temperature at home. The elderly people and the children should be kept in the coolest rooms in the home, especially at night,” he added.

Besides, Dr Shafi said that the body of the elderly and children should be kept cool and hydrated. Along with taking more pure drinking water, their body should be wiped with a cloth using lukewarm water from time to time.

The children should be kept at home or parents have to ensure using an umbrella during day time and they should not stand in hot places for long, he suggested.