A report by the medical journal The Lancet focusing on the impact of climate change on human health across the world has said that India is one of the worst affected countries.
The Lancet Countdown 2018 on Health and Climate Change report, published on Wednesday, says that around the world, each person was exposed to an additional 1.4 days of heat wave between 2000 and 2017, compared to a baseline period between 1986 and 2005, the Hindustan Times reported. In 2017, 157 million additional heat wave exposure events took place, compared to 139 million in 2016.
India experienced an additional 40 million heat wave exposure events in 2016 compared to 2012, the report said. India also lost nearly 75,000 million labour hours in 2017, compared to 43,000 million in 2000. A briefing paper by the Public Health Foundation of India, based on The Lancet report, said that labour hours lost in India’s agricultural sector increased from about 40,000 million in 2000 to 60,000 million in 2017.
“What we saw in the data shared is that the number, duration and intensity of heat waves has been increasing in India, particularly in the last decade,” Dr Poornima Prabhakaran, the deputy director of the Centre for Environmental Health at the Public Health Foundation of India, told the Hindustan Times. “There are spikes in heat wave related morbidity and mortality. Lancet had shared summary data sets with us.”
The Lancet study recommended that Indian authorities identify “heat hot-spots” by properly collecting meteorological data and promoting “timely development and implementation of local Heat Action Plans with strategic inter-agency co-ordination, and a response which targets the most vulnerable groups”, The Hindu reported. The report also urges India to review its labour laws, occupational health standards and regulations for worker safety with regard to climate.
The report has been released just days before the 24th Conference of the Parties on climate change begins in Katowice, Poland, where several countries will discuss how to combat the phenomenon.