Heatwaves Pose Great Risk to Health Workers and Daily Wagers


by Hamna Bano

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According to an Amnesty International report, Pakistan's heatwaves are more likely to affect health workers, daily wagers, and elderly people living in the country's hottest cities.

This report released on World Environment Day examined the impacts of extreme heat in Pakistan on people’s lives and their right to health and livelihood. 

The report stated that “daily wagers — who make up 71.7 percent of the labor force in Pakistan — have no social and economic protection, and hence have no choice but to continue working in extreme weather conditions, despite health guidelines to stay indoors during periods of extreme heat.”

A male truck driver in Lahore told Amnesty International that “We have to rethink taking [a] break. If we take a break there is no daily wage. Because of poverty, we have to work no matter the weather.”


Health workers that were interviewed in Jacobabad and Lahore stated that they have been seeing an increase in abnormal breathing patterns, heatstrokes, burning sensations, headaches, and drowsiness in people during periods of unbearable heat. 

The report also revealed that over 40 million people in Pakistan lack access to electricity. Others have irregular and inconsistent supplies. People in poverty lack access to or cannot afford energy for fans or air conditioners, and they also cannot afford solar panels.

The Amnesty International report urged Pakistan and the International community to prioritize marginalized communities and implement human rights complaint heat action plans and enhance social protection to tackle heatwaves. 

Some recommendations included conducting needs assessments, involving marginalized populations, and providing effective support systems to address the impact of heat waves.

“These actions require significant financial resources, and the international community must come together to ensure the availability of these”, the report suggested. 

All in all, debt relief from payments occupying significant amounts of government revenues and expenditures can be one avenue of financing.