Bahrain alerts over summer heat strokes
Manama, June 11, 2013
Bahrain has issued a new summer health warning following an increase in the rate of potentially fatal heat stroke cases at the kingdom’s main public hospital.
Last week that more than 50 people, most of them Asian construction workers, had been treated at Salmaniya Medical Complex (SMC) within the space of 24 hours for dehydration and other conditions, reported the Gulf Daily News (GDN), our sister publication.
However, the hospital has now handled more heat stroke cases in the first 10 days of this month than it did all last month.
Only three cases were treated in May, but four people have already been treated for sun stroke so far this month and the hospital is bracing itself for a rush of cases.
"Significantly, all those who have reported sun stroke are workers who came to the hospital from construction sites," said chief of medical staff Dr Mohammed Amin Awadhi.
"We have started a new campaign to educate workers and their employers to prevent such cases. We have received several other cases of people suffering from heat exhaustion and they have been discharged after receiving treatment as well. The sun stroke cases are a little more complicated and were kept under observation."
The GDN reported last week that campaigners were calling on the Bahrain government to bring forward a midday ban on outdoor work.
Bahrain bans all outdoor work between midday and 4pm during July and August to protect employees, but with temperatures already hitting 40C the Migrant Workers protection Society (MWPS) is urging authorities to extend the midday ban until the beginning of June.
In the meantime, Dr Al Awadhi urged those working outdoors to take proper precautions and advised anyone who experienced symptoms of heat exhaustion to seek emergency treatment.
"Nausea, dizziness, a dry or parched mouth, loss of balance and a sense of wanting to drink large quantities of water, along with a feeling of vomiting and irritability, should be immediately reported," he said.
Consultant emergency physician Dr Nabil Bastawisi said the Health Ministry's health education department and the SMC Accident and Emergency Department would work together to raise awareness.
"Those working in the sun should wear a hat or cover their heads, wear light coloured cotton clothes and consume sufficient amounts of liquids such as water and juices frequently," he said. "Eating fat free food and avoiding exposure to the sun at noon are also essential steps that can be taken."
Labour Ministry inspectors will be out in force during July and August to ensure employers respect the midday ban on outdoor work.
Companies caught flouting the summer work ban will be prosecuted and fined up to BD300 ($785) per worker. – TradeArabia News Service