Children at high risk in Bangladesh: UNICEF

With an oppressive heatwave persisting throughout the country, UNICEF remains deeply concerned about the health and safety of the children across the country due to sweltering temperatures.

According to UNICEF’s 2021 Children’s Climate Risk Index (CCRI), children in Bangladesh are at ‘extremely high risk’ of the impacts of climate change.

“The unusual rise in temperatures poses grave risks, particularly to newborns, infants, and young children who are considered to be an especially vulnerable population to heat-related illnesses such as heat stroke and diarrhoea caused by dehydration,” UNICEF Representative in Bangladesh Sheldon Yett said in a statement issued Wednesday.

Moreover, as the primary and mass education ministry has ordered the closure of all the government primary schools in the country till 27 April due to concerns with the impact of rising temperatures on children, UNICEF is urging parents to be extra vigilant in keeping their children hydrated and safe.

The severity of this heatwave underscores the urgent need for action to protect children from the worsening impacts of climate change.

“With temperatures soaring to unprecedented levels, we must prioritise the well-being of children and the most vulnerable populations,” the statement read.

To protect children from this heatwave, UNICEF urges frontline workers, parents, families, caregivers and local authorities to protect children and pregnant women by taking the following steps:

Prevention: Wherever children are staying, create cooler places for children to sit or play. Avoid being outdoors during the hot midday and afternoon hours.

Make sure that children wear light, breathable clothes and drink plenty of water throughout the day.

First aid: if a child or a pregnant woman shows symptoms of heat stress (like dizziness, excessive sweating, nausea, mild fever, nosebleeds, muscle cramps, heat rashes in diaper area), place the person in a cool, shaded area with good ventilation and apply wet towels or cool water to the body.

Administer water or Oral Rehydration Salt (ORS).

Severe symptoms of heat stress such as (confusion or inability to respond, fainting, high body temperature, rapid heartbeat, seizures and loss of consciousness) require urgent hospital care.

Look out for your neighbours: Vulnerable families, children with disabilities, pregnant women, and the elderly face a higher risk of illness or death during heatwaves. Take the time to check on your neighbours, especially those who live alone.