Comment: Heatwave in India




The Chief Executive of The Leprosy Mission has voiced his concern over the severe effects of climate change in Asia. The World Meteorological Organization has warned that Asia is bearing the brunt of climate change. The warning from the United Nations weather agency coincides with a severe heatwave in India. Temperatures are soaring to as high as 45 degrees across great swathes of the country.

Chief Executive Peter Waddup said the World Meteorological Organization’s findings sadly come as no surprise. He said: “Over the past few years we have witnessed our colleagues in Asia struggle with severe heatwaves, floods and storms. In fact we now need to budget for extreme climate emergencies which happen every year. Last year we provided emergency food and medical supplies to communities in Myanmar. This was in the aftermath of Cyclone Mocha which made landfall in Western Myanmar on May 14th. With wind speeds of up to 250km per hour, it was one of the strongest cyclones to ever hit the country, destroying homes and livelihoods.

“Now my colleagues in India are battling daily life in hospitals and clinics without air conditioning. Their concern is to make the patients as comfortable as possible.” Peter said that in India, where the majority of people live hand to mouth, there is little option but to carry on. “For the majority in India, not working equates to not eating,” he said.

“My colleague at Salur Hospital in Andhra Pradesh sent over a photo of women labourers working on the site yesterday in 45 degree heat. They are immaculately dressed in colourful saris and were stoically carrying on. I simply cannot imagine doing such physical work in insufferable temperatures. People continue to queue in the blistering heat outside our Outpatients’ departments in India. These are often the only places where they can see a doctor free of charge and places where they are loved , accepted and cared for. So although terribly uncomfortable, a wait in the burning sun is simply a means to an end.

“I keep recalling the feeling of dread I had running up to July 19th 2022. This is when meteorologists had warned that, for the first time in the UK, temperatures would exceed 40 degrees. We all planned our lives so there was minimal movement for two days simply to make life bearable. I really cannot imagine how they can carry on for weeks in India in such severe heat. The summer monsoon will bring some relief but it is still weeks away.”

The news that Asia’s struggle with climate change is greater than the rest of the world’s came a day after Earth Day on Monday [22 April]. Peter said: “I love looking at the photos that NASA release every year on Earth Day in celebration of our incredible planet. Taken from satellites, aircraft and deep-space missions, they leave me in awe and wonder. How to protect our beautiful planet is a monumental challenge. The World Meteorological Organization is calling for national weather services across Asia to improve disaster planning. There are also renewed calls for governments to implement net zero emissions by 2040 to help quell rising temperatures.

“In our own lives we are encouraged to reduce our carbon footprints by flying and driving less and switching to renewable energy. I just hope and pray this will be enough to protect the people suffering the very most from climate change.”

Main Photo Credit: Umesh Negi via Getty Images

Val Fraser

Val Fraser is a trained journalist with over 12 years’ experience working on staff in various demanding media environments. She has authored/edited thousands of articles including news, travel and features. Val has authored/contributed to nine non-fiction books. A regular columnist, she stepped up to the role of Digital Editor in September 2022 and is responsible for the Sorted Magazine website.

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