Heat-related deaths high in India: Study

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India is one of the five countries with the highest heat wave exposure of vulnerable populations over the past five years. Along with Brazil, India reported the highest heat related mortality in the world, said the 2021 report of the Lancet Countdown on health and climate change The newest report marked code red for a healthy future outlining the growing risks to health and climate. These risks exacerbate the health hazards already faced by many, particularly in communities exposed to food and water insecurity, heatwaves and infectious diseases.

Heat-related mortality for people older than 65 years increased throughout the study, reaching a record high of almost 3,45,000 deaths in 2019 — 80.6 per cent higher than in the 2000-05 average. Between 2018 and 2019, India and Brazil had the biggest absolute increase in heat-related mortality.

In 2020, adults over 65 were affected by 3.1 billion more days of heatwave exposure than in the 1986-2005 baseline average. Chinese, Indian, American, Japanese, and Indonesian senior citizens were the most affected, said the report released late Wednesday.

“In a rising trend since at least 1990, 295 billion hours of potential work was lost across the globe in 2020 due to heat exposure-the equivalent to 88 work hours per employed person. Pakistan, Bangladesh, and India had the greatest losses among this group (2.5-3 times the world average and the equivalent to 216-261 hours lost per employed person in 2020,” it said.

Among the key findings, the report said that in 2020, up to 19 per cent of the global land surface was affected by extreme drought in any given month, a value that had not exceeded 13 per cent  between 1950 and 1999.  “The five years with the most areas affected by extreme drought have all occurred since 2015,” it said.

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