ECOSF Team Contributes in Seminar on; “Preparing Communities and Hospitals for Heat Waves – Lessons learnt from Karachi” held on 19 April 2019 in Islamabad, Pakistan

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A dissemination seminar entitled; “Preparing Communities and Hospitals for Heat Waves – Lessons learnt from Karachi, Pakistan” was jointly organized by The Aga Khan University (AKU) and LEAD Pakistan hosted on 19th April, 2019 in Islamabad. The purpose of this seminar was to share the findings of a research project “Heat Emergency Awareness and Treatment (HEAT)” jointly partnered by The Aga Khan University (AKU) of Pakistan, Aman Foundation and Johns Hopkins University (JHU), USA. The project was funded by Research for Health in Humanitarian Crises (R2HC), UK.

The objective of the project was to prepare community and hospital emergency departments to deal with heat emergencies in a better and effective way in the wake of disruptive climatic changes recently observed in Pakistan. The event brought to together national and provincial stakeholders to explore contemporary best practices and lessons for heat wave management in Pakistan. On behalf of ECO Science Foundation (ECOSF), its President Prof. Dr. Manzoor Hussain Soomro along with Mr. Khalil Raza Scientific Officer and Mr. Ghulam Abbas Assistant Director Programs, participated in the event.

Chairperson of Senate Standing Committee on Climate Change, Senator Ms. Sitara Ayaz was the  Chief Guest in the event. Senator Ayaz called for adopting effective measures to address the impact of climate change and one must not ignore various threats associated with this change. She also showed her concern that Climate Change is not been given due importance by the concerned quarters. “The threats are there such as severe heat, faster melting of glaciers, unexpected heavy rainfall that cause flooding and even damage to agriculture sector and we need to do considerable work to reduce the impact of these threats” she said.

Prof. Dr Junaid Razzak, Professor of Emergency Medicine at Johns Hopkins University, shared results of this impact study which showed that temperature is 5-7 degrees Centigrade higher in downtown during summers compared to suburbs. Beside traffic signals, the temperatures are always 1-2 degrees higher than the temperature of the city. People walking in that area or on motorcycles are vulnerable to heat waves, he said.

Dr Nadeemullah Khan, Associate Professor at AKU recommended that hospitals should not only prepare themselves in advance but their managements should also keep an eye on weather predictions too. He said the most vulnerable class included; the people at lower segment of social economic class, elderly, those suffering from diabetes, heart problems and asthma and they have to be extra careful in summers.

In the end, a panel discussion was held to discuss implementation of study findings, guidelines and protocols and devise a way forward. The panel discussion generated a meaningful discussion amongst the audience. ECOSF President Prof. Soomro and ECOSF Scientific Officer Engr. Khalil Raza also contributed to discussions and shared their views and emphasized over the need to adopt indigenous knowledge systems and learn from our ancestors as to how they used to prevent themselves from various natural calamities, including the heat waves. Prof. Soomro also stressed upon incorporating the climate change issues in school curricula as well as in trainings of teachers.

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