Pakistan Hospitals and Morgues Are Overflowing Due to Heat Wave

Pakistan

Pakistan’s hospitals and morgues are overflowing due to a heat wave that has left the region in chaos. Pakistan temperatures this summer have ranged between 104 – 120 degrees Fahrenheit since the beginning of June, causing over 1,000 deaths so far, including zoo animals. Ramadan also coincided with the heat wave, but an exception has been issued from well-known Islamic clerks in the region such as Tahir Ashrafi, who cites the Quran as stating fasting can be abstained from due to health issues.

In Karachi, a region in Pakistan, the morgues are overflowing and bodies are being piled into the street. Many graves are left unmarked as the workers rush to dispose of the bodies as more pile in. Hundreds of deaths are reported every day. The Pakistani army has been deployed to help with relief efforts, providing bottles of water, medical trucks and facilities to help treat people. The appliance industry in Pakistan is running out of coolers and fans as they have all been purchased.

Pakistan hospitals and morgues are overflowing due to heat wave though the incoming monsoon season, which will start in the first week of July 2015, will bring relief from the scathing temperatures. Pressure from the citizens in the form of riots bring into question the weak infrastructure of the Pakistani government, and also to the continuing lethal combination of poverty and natural disasters. Lower income areas have been hit the worst; many drug addicts and homeless people were the first to die. This is actually not uncommon in the region, but this year was especially serious. Pakistan hospitals and morgues are literally overflowing due to this year’s heat wave.

Power outages and electricity cuts have further complicated matters.  There have also been bouts of protesting in the streets in response to the lack of care taken to prevent the deaths by the government. The lack of climate tracking technology in the region has been cited as a reason the heat wave struck so swiftly and destructively. Global warming is also being blamed by politicians in the area, as temperatures in the region have been rising over the past few decades, but poverty and natural disasters are no strangers to this region and to many parts of the world.

Pakistan has been recognized internationally as a high-risk area for natural disasters, especially floods, and tsunamis, because of the poor infrastructure and rapidly increasing population. In the past 40 years, Pakistan has suffered increasingly from the region’s tendency towards monsoon and tsunami like weather, as well as droughts and heat waves. The World Bank and the DCRIP (Disaster and Climate Resilience Improvement Project) have approved millions of dollars to be given to the United States for the specific purpose of supporting the region’s government in the event of natural disasters.

The project will focus on making sure that the poorest people in the country will be protected due to adequate building requirements and smart usage of agriculture and reservoirs to control water flow. The project will also focus on helping the poor to escape from poverty by providing access to public programs and assistance. Punjab and Karachi, two regions often hit hardest by natural disasters, will be of chief concern for the project funded by the World Bank and DCRIP, which will work to prevent and reduce the high amount of deaths seen year after year. This past summer in Karachi, hospitals and morgues were overflowing from the high amount of deaths caused by the heat wave.

By Stephanie Butler

Sources:

World bank: World bank approves US 125$ million to Combat Natural Disasters

CNN: Karachi heat wave: Unforgiving heat claims more lives

NY Times: Death Toll From Heat Wave in Pakistani Port of Karachi Hits 1,000

BBC: Pakistan heatwave: Death toll crosses 700 people in Sindh

Al Jazeera: Pakistan Heat Wave Death Toll soars past athousand

Image Courtesy of DVIDSHUB’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License

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