India, Brazil Saw Biggest Jump in Heat-Related Deaths in 2018-19

Almost 3.45 lakh people above the age of 65 died of heat-related causes in 2019.

Climate Change
2 min read
<div class="paragraphs"><p>Hyderabad continues to reel under heatwave-like conditions as the temperatures touched 43.4 degree Celsius on May 26, 2020. </p></div>

India is one of the five countries with the highest heat wave exposure of vulnerable populations over the past five years.

India, along with Bangladesh and Pakistan, recorded the greatest losses to work hours due to heat exposure in 2020, according to the Lancet Countdown on Health and Climate Change released on Thursday.

Almost 3.45 lakh people above the age of 65 died of heat-related causes in 2019, more than 80·6 per cent of the average recorded from 2000-2005. Medical experts have cautioned that this is an indicator of the degrading health of people caused by climate change.

The Lancet Countdown on health and climate change report, 2021 quantifies heat vulnerability combining the data on the number of people older than 65 years of age, with the proportion of people living in urban areas and the prevalence of chronic respiratory disease, cardiovascular disease and diabetes. In India the vulnerability to extremes of heat in 2019 was almost 31 on the index, which is 15 per cent higher than in the 1990s.


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.

The report showed that over 295 billion hours of potential work were lost across the globe in 2020, which is about 88 work hours per employed person, due to heat exposure.

In 2020, up to 19 percent of the global land surface was affected by extreme drought in any given month, a value that had not exceeded 13 percent between 1950 and 1999.

A few experts pointed out that year’s data shows an increase in heatwave and wildfire exposure, drought, changes in the suitability for infectious diseases, and rising sea levels. Data also shows that the heatwaves are impacting people’s mental health as well. An analysis of Twitter showed a 155% increase in negative expressions during heatwaves in 2020 relative to 2015-2019.

Only 45 (49%) of 91 countries in 2021 reported having carried out a climate change and health vulnerability and adaptation assessment and even those did not have comprehensive plans.

The report also flagged the potential for outbreaks of dengue, chikungunya and Zika.

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