Come heat or highwater, Yangonites persevere

Heat-Stroke-1 Theint Mon Soe (J)/The Myanmar Times

29 Apr 19 - Source: Myanmar Times - Most people in Yangon Region affirmed that they are obviously feeling the higher temperatures these past few week days compared with same time this year.

"People don't take taxis when it's very hot. Most people don't even go out unless they have to. This cuts the drivers' incomes," 35-year taxi veteran U Hla Tin, who lives in Sanchaung Township, told Myanmar Times.

He added that most taxi drivers are starting work anywhere from between 5am to11am and 3pm to 6pm to avoid the highest temperatures around the middle of the day. Some of drivers return home for lunch and to rest while others wait for passengers under trees or other shady places between 11am and 3pm.

Theint Mon Soe (J)/The Myanmar Times

Ko Min MinTun, a day labouret who works in construction projects in Hlaing Tharyar Township said that he wears personal protective equipment (PPE) while he work in high temperatures. He also drinks plenty of water and stays in shaded areas, following recommendations of the Ministry of Health and Sports.

"I'm always keeping an eye out for educational information on heat-related health problems. Then I follow the instructions of MoHS as much as I can," he said.

Likewise, U NgweTun, head coach of Hantharwady United Football Club of the Myanmar National League explained that he carefully manage his footballers to ensure they do not suffer heat stroke or heat-related health problems in training during high-temperature days.

Theint Mon Soe (J)/The Myanmar Times

"We absolutely do care about every individual player in our football club. We are sportsmen therefore we can't stop our training. And we always give them health knowledge to recover and to control themselves when they train on the hotter days," said U Ngwe Tun.

He asks the trainees to drink plenty of water or rehydration fluids and he looks after every individual player's diet. He has also changed their training times to 4pm in the evening instead of 3pm during the hottest days of April.

In Yangon on April 26, the Kaba Aye meteorological station recorded a maximum of 42.5 Celsius, the highest temperature recorded in the city in 51 years and 41.8C above the old mark in 2014, according to an announcement from the Department of Meteorology and Hydrology (DMH).

Theint Mon Soe (J)/The Myanmar Times

The previous April high temperature was listed as 41.1C. These records go back to 1881.

The Department of Meteorology and Hydrology in Myanmar noted new records for five cities on Friday and Yangon was not the hottest. The city and port of Chauk, on the banks of the Irrawaddy River in central Myanmar, has been hitting 45C regularly since April 12.

Records on April 26 were also broken at Taungoo (43.3C), Gyobingauk (43 C), Yay (41C) and Lubutta (40.5C).

Theint Mon Soe (J)/The Myanmar Times

"The temperature will still be high for the next few weeks. We must keep our eyes open until the end of May," said Dr U Kyaw Moe Oo, director general of the Department of Meteorology and Hydrology reviewed.

The Ministry of Health and Sports has already been distributing guidelines and procedures for dealing with heat disorders to all medical officers in government hospitals across the country to effectively manage patients with heat-related medical conditions. It has also been making public service announcements about the dangers of heatstroke and other heat-related problems to the public.

The Yangon's have prepared special rooms with extra cooling from air conditioners and fans in preparation for the rising temperatures over the summer months. And the hospitals have also readied medicine and equipment to treat heat-related illnesses.

Theint Mon Soe (J)/The Myanmar Times

"We have air conditioners and electric fans in the rooms of every ward for heat stroke patients," said Prof Daw Moe Moe San, a senior consultant physician in the Tropical and Infectious Diseases Department of Yangon General Hospital.

"We are ready to place ice-packs at the neck, armpits and groin of any patient or wrap them with wet and cool blanket or towel and fanned vigorously. We have enough normal saline for heatstroke patients," she added.

Yangon General Hospital last Wednesday admitted its first heatstroke victim of the year as temperatures in most of the country soared. The 40-year-old patient, who lives in North Dagon Township and works as a vendor in Pabedan Township, in Yangon was brought to the hospital last Monday.

Theint Mon Soe (J)/The Myanmar Times

Earlier this month, a 38-year-old man died of heatstroke in Bago People's Hospital, Bago Region.

According to the World Health Organization, over the last 130 years, the world has warmed by approximately 0.85C. As a result, extreme weather events are becoming more intense and frequent.

Between 2030 and 2050, climate change is expected to cause approximately 250,000 additional deaths per year, from malnutrition, malaria, diarrhea and heat stress due to climate change, according to WHO.

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