New Delhi: India saw the output of its workforce decline seven per cent — equivalent to the loss of 75 billion man hours — last year due to heatwave conditions, the 2018 Lancet report on health and climate change said on Thursday. The figure is almost four times that of China and a little less than half of the 153 billion manhours lost globally in 2017. It said the Indian government and related public health agencies must identify “heat hot-spots” through appropriate tracking and modelling of meteorological data and promote the timely development and implementation of local heat action plans, with strategic inter-agency coordination and a response which targets the most vulnerable groups.
Urging a review of existing occupational health standards, labour laws and regulations for worker safety in relation to climatic conditions sector-by-sector, the report also asked India to reduce carbon emissions and air pollution, particularly from coal, for the sake of public health. Globally, 157 million more vulnerable people were subjected to heatwaves last year than in 2000, and 18 million more than in 2016. China alone lost 21 billion hours, the equivalent of a year’s work for 1.4 per cent of its working population. Rising ambient temperatures are placing vulnerable populations at increased risk across all regions of the world. Heat greatly exacerbates urban air pollution, with 97 per cent of cities in low and middle-income countries not meeting WHO air quality guidelines. Heat stress, an early and severe effect of climate change, is commonplace and the health systems are ill-equipped to cope. (IANS)
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