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Published: 20 Jun, 2018

Outside workers most likely to suffer heat-related mortality

NEWS A study investigating the effects of weather extremes on health in 22 rural villages east of Pune, in western India, found that people of working age had a higher risk of dying as a result of hot weather than other population groups. During heat waves, deaths from non-infectious diseases such as asthma and cardiovascular diseases were more frequent than usual, according to a doctoral dissertation at Umeå University.

“Previous research has shown that the elderly are most vulnerable to high temperatures. However, my study showed that working age population was most affected and that especially residents with low education and farmers were most vulnerable to the high summer temperatures,” says Vijendra Ingole, doctoral student at the Department of Public Health and Clinical Medicine, Epidemiology and Global Health Unit and author of the dissertation.

In the context of climate change, it is necessary that we develop adaptation strategies in order to tackle this public health challenge in India and beyond

In May 2015, a heat wave in the Indian states of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana killed more than 2500 people, according to the National Disaster Management Authority. Many of those who died were laborers and farmers working outside even during peak temperatures. In May 2016, the Indian Meteorological Department reported a new temperature record of 51°C.

Vijendra Ingole’s findings provide strong evidence that rural populations of working age in India are especially vulnerable to extreme temperatures. In addition to broadening the general understanding of climate change-driven health threats, Vijendra Ingole also suggests a set of adaptation strategies.

Vijendra Ingole is from Pune in western India. He has an educational background in Environmental Sciences, GIS and Remote Sensing from Savitribai Phule Pune University. He pursued his doctoral degree at the Epidemiology and Global Health Unit, Department of Public Health and Clinical Medicine at Umeå University, Sweden. He is also affiliated with the Vadu Rural Health Program at the KEM Hospital Research Centre in Pune, India.

“Adverse heat effects on rural populations are preventable by efficient risk communication that raises awareness and promotes adaptive behavior. In the context of climate change, it is necessary that we develop adaptation strategies in order to tackle this public health challenge in India and beyond,” says Vijendra Ingole.

Read a digital publication of the doctoral dissertation

About the public dissertation defense:

On September 21, Vijendra Ingole, Department of Public Health and Clinical Medicine, Epidemiology and Global Health, is defending his thesis with the title: "Too Hot! - Epidemiological investigation of weather-related mortality in rural India.” Faculty opponent:  Professor Patrick Kinney, Columbia University, Mailman School of Public Health, New York, USA. Principal supervisor: Dr. Barbara Schumann.

The public dissertation defense takes place at 9:00 am in Room 135, Building X, First floor, University Hospital of Umeå (NUS).

For more information, please contact:

Vijendra Ingole, Department of Public Health and Clinical Medicine, Epidemiology and Global Health, Umeå University
+46 727 196 549; vijendra.ingole@gmail.com

Editor: Daniel Harju