Ahmedabad is the first city in South Asia to develop a heat wave early warning system and a Heat Action Plan (HAP) that comprehensively addresses the health threats of extreme heat. Early results from Ahmedabad report that observed daily all-cause mortality during heat waves is lower since the implementation of the HAP in 2013.
Several lessons were learned including: the importance of strong partnerships; the value of municipalities’ support in developing well-coordinated early warning systems; media’s key role in reaching heat-vulnerable residents; and the tremendous benefits of dialogue between meteorological forecasters like the India Meteorological Department (IMD) and the public health community. In future, developing robust surveillance for heat-related illnesses and mortality will help municipalities as they evaluate the effects of heat early warning systems on heat vulnerability.
Some unmanaged vulnerability to heat remains, since heat-protective measures are not yet available to all residents. Reaching more of the most heat-vulnerable is a near-term goal that will enhance Ahmedabad’s longer-term resilience to rising heat and its threats to health. In Ahmedabad, heatwaves are now an actionable public health issue.
The heat-health early warning system in Ahmedabad has served as a model for two other regions and ten other cities in India, who have adapted the work from Ahmedabad to launch their own HAPs in 2016.