People cool themselves in a pond near Rawal Dam reservoir in Islamabad, capital of Pakistan on June 10, 2021. (Photo by Jamil Ahmed/Xinhua)
by Raheela Nazir
ISLAMABAD, June 11 (Xinhua) -- Muhammad Ahmed, a 4th grade student at a public school in Pakistan's capital Islamabad, was taking his English language class when he felt nauseous and dizzy before passing out due to heatstroke.
"My teachers immediately poured water on my forearms, neck and head in a bid to lower down my body temperature and shifted me to a nearby hospital for medical aid," he told Xinhua on Thursday.
Ahmed said he was not the only student who suffered immensely from the sweltering heat, and at least 20 of his schoolmates fell unconscious before being transported to the hospital, adding that some children also suffered nose bleeding.
"I was so excited to be able to attend my classes with my friends again after our school was reopened on Monday due to decrease in the number of new coronavirus cases in Islamabad, but now I have to stay for a few more days at home due to my health condition," the 4th grader said.
Parts of Pakistan including Islamabad have recently witnessed extreme hot weather with many cities recording temperatures above 40 degrees Celsius, posing health challenges to people.
According to the Pakistan Meteorological Department, based on the regional and global climatic conditions, one to two heatwaves are expected to hit plain areas of the eastern Punjab province, southern Sindh province and southwestern Balochistan province in the first two weeks of June.
Adding to people's miseries, Pakistan saw a power crisis recently, with blackouts of up to 20 hours in some areas as a result of the sharp increase in energy demand amid the hot weather.
"We are witnessing approximately 15-20 percent more peak demand in power compared to last year. We added 1,200 MW to the national grid today. Another 1,000 MW to be added tomorrow. That should eliminate most problems," Energy Minister Hammad Azhar said on Thursday.
In a conversation with Xinhua, Kiran Rehman, a public health expert, said that hospitals have seen more heatstroke patients in recent days.
As the situation could get worse, there is the need to make heatstroke precautions as well as symptoms requiring urgent hospitalization known to the public, she said, adding that heatstroke can be prevented by drinking plenty of water and avoiding the direct sun exposure, among other measures.
The frequency and duration of extreme heatwaves are becoming more intense in countries including Pakistan due to climate change and global warming, Rashid Aftab, a public policy and governance expert from the Riphah International University, Islamabad, told Xinhua.
As severe heat events are expected to become more frequent in the years to come, they could have serious implications for the Pakistani people in terms of health, livelihoods, and the overall economic growth of the country, he said.
Aftab said that extreme weathers could threaten the agricultural sector, which accounts for half of the employed labor force in the Asian country, by leading to productivity reduction and water insecurity.
"Pakistan has already been struggling to cope with plethora of challenges on multiple fronts, and not addressing extreme heat will only aggravate the situation for the country," he said.
Tahir Sadiq, a Pakistani lawmaker and member of the National Assembly Standing Committee on Climate Change, said that being among the top 10 most vulnerable countries to climate change, Pakistan has taken steps and launched multiple green initiatives including the 10 Billion Tree Tsunami program in efforts to reduce carbon emissions and to tackle food and water insecurity caused by the extreme hot weather.
Concerning national strategies to counter heatwaves and climate change, Sadiq said that early warning systems are being established so that people can prepare for extreme weathers to protect their health and avoid economic loss.
In addition, he said, as Pakistan is moving towards industrialization, the incumbent government has been making all-out efforts to produce green energy.
Climate change is a common challenge facing mankind, Sadiq said, adding that all countries around the world should join hands to deal with threats and risks coming with it. Enditem