India, Brazil register highest jump in heat-related deaths in 2018-19, says Lancet report

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October 21, 2021 6:39 PM

The Lancet report measures the vulnerability to heat stress on a range of 0 to 100 with India recording the level of 31 on the index which is 15 percent higher than the level recorded in the 1990s.

The Lancet team analysed over 600 crore tweets of the last five years around the world and found an increase of 155% in negative expressions used by the users during heatwaves in the year 2020.

In a significant finding a Lancet report has found that a whopping 3.45 lakh people aged above 65 years died of heat-related causes in 2019 alone with maximum absolute increase in deaths reported in India and Brazil as compared to 2018. The Lancet Countdown on health and climate change report is the latest evidence of the increasing negative impact of climate change on human health and well being. The Lancet report measures the vulnerability to heat stress on a range of 0 to 100 with India recording the level of 31 on the index which is 15 percent higher than the level recorded in the 1990s, the Indian Express reported.

While the heat-related mortality decreased in the year 2019 in comparison to 2018 in the WHO European region, the European region comprising countries like Germany, Russia, and the UK remain the most affected by heat stress. The region registered a total of 1.08 lakh deaths related to heat stress in 2019. The impact of heat stress is not severe on health and mortality of humans alone but also substantially high on the productivity of workers as a total of 295 billion hours of potential work got ruined due to severe heat stress in the year 2020, the report said. India, Bangladesh and Pakistan suffered the loss of maximum hours of potential work in the whole world in 2020.

Prof Dileep Mavalankar, who is the head of the Indian Institute of Public Health, Gandhinagar, told The Indian Express that instead of solely taking into account heat-related mortality, all-cause mortality needs to be tracked. Mavalankar said that exposure can cause deaths indirectly among older people who are already suffering from a number of co-morbidities.

Among the probable causes that fuelled the increase in heat stress, the Lancet report has highlighted increase in heatwaves, wildfire incidents, drought, rising sea levels and insufficient adaptation measures taken by countries against climate change. Among another significant finding, the report also analysed the impact of heat stress on the mental health of people. The Lancet team analysed over 600 crore tweets of the last five years around the world and found an increase of 155% in negative expressions used by the users during heatwaves in the year 2020.

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