Heatwave Forces School Closures and Health Concerns Across Asia

Rising temperatures have prompted the closure of schools in Bangladesh, affecting 33 million children as parts of the country experience scorching heat exceeding 42°C (108°F).

Authorities have announced school closures until at least April 27 for the second consecutive year due to extreme weather conditions, mirroring similar measures taken in the Philippines and India amid a persistent heatwave sweeping across Asia.

School closures extend as Asia battles scorching heatwaves. (Credit: Getty Images)

Save the Children’s Bangladesh director, Shumon Sengupta, emphasized the vulnerability of Bangladesh’s children, particularly those living in poverty, to heat-related school closures, calling for urgent action to address the impact of climate change.

Bangladesh, situated in a low-lying area, faces heightened risks from the climate crisis, including the potential displacement of millions due to rising sea levels, as highlighted by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

People are drinking water and washing their faces from a roadside water pipeline during a heatwave in Dhaka, Bangladesh, on April 23, 2024. (Photo by Mamunur Rashid/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

In response to the sweltering conditions, thousands of Bangladeshis have gathered to pray for rain, seeking relief from the extreme heat. The country’s weather authorities issued a fourth heat alert for the month as hospitals and clinics brace for an increase in patients suffering from heat-related illnesses.

Unicef has warned of the grave risks posed by unusually high temperatures to children across East Asia and the Pacific, particularly newborns and infants, who are less equipped to regulate their body temperatures.

Meanwhile, in Thailand, officials have raised concerns about the “extremely dangerous” heat index in Bangkok, with a rise in heatstroke-related deaths reported this year. Myanmar has also experienced soaring temperatures, surpassing 45°C on Wednesday.

Pedestrians cover from the sun with their hands as they walk during a heatwave in Bangkok, Thailand (Photo by Valeria Mongelli/Anadolu via Getty Images)

The Philippines has suspended in-person classes for 47,000 schools due to extreme heat, while fire incidents have increased, attributed to power overload and overheating of electric fans from continuous usage.

The World Meteorological Organisation highlighted the impact of climate change on extreme weather events in Asia, emphasizing the urgent need for action to mitigate its effects on societies, economies, and human lives.

As temperatures continue to soar across the region, the health and well-being of millions, particularly children, remain at risk, underscoring the critical importance of addressing climate change and its consequences.

Arit Saha
Arit Saha
Arit Saha, an Economics graduate and budding content writer in Kolkata, deftly merges his passions for economics and global politics. He crafts engaging content weaving economic insights into geopolitical narratives. Contact: [email protected]
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