Development and Implementation of South Asia’s First Heat-Health Action Plan in Ahmedabad, Gujarat, India
Recurrent heat waves, already a concern in rapidly growing and urbanizing South Asia, will very likely worsen in a warming world. Coordinated adaptation efforts can reduce heat’s adverse health impacts, however. To address this concern in Ahmedabad (Gujarat, India), a coalition has been formed to develop an evidence-based heat preparedness plan and early warning system. This paper describes the group and initial steps in the plan’s development and implementation. Evidence accumulation included extensive literature review, analysis of local temperature and mortality data, surveys with heat-vulnerable populations, focus groups with health care professionals, and expert consultation. The findings and recommendations were encapsulated in policy briefs for key government agencies, health care professionals, outdoor workers, and slum communities, and synthesized in the heat preparedness plan. A 7-day probabilistic weather forecast was also developed and is used to trigger the plan in advance of dangerous heat waves. The pilot plan was implemented in 2013, and public outreach was done through training workshops, hoardings/billboards, pamphlets, and print advertisements. Evaluation activities and continuous improvement efforts are ongoing, along with plans to explore the program’s scalability to other Indian cities, as Ahmedabad is the first South Asian city to address heat-health threats comprehensively.