Parts of Pakistan including Islamabad have witnessed an extreme heatwave, with many cities recording temperatures above 40 degrees Celsius.
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 Punjab, Sindh and Balochistan provinces this month, Xinhua news agency reports.
Amist the sweltering heat, the country has also witnessed frequent power cuts, with blackouts of up to 20 hours in some areas as a result of the sharp increase in energy demand.
“We are witnessing approximately 15-20 per cent 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.
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.