Mohammed Al Zarooni (centre), director of the health ministry’s Representative Office in Sharjah, addressing a press conference in Sharjah on Wednesday to announce details of the heat prevention initiative Image Credit: Supplied

Sharjah: Amid UAE temperatures hitting close to 50C recently and possibly hotter days ahead, the Ministry of Health and Prevention (MoHAP) on Wednesday announced the launch of an initiative to prevent heat exhaustion, heat stroke and other heat-related illnesses.

First aid training, site visits, and awareness campaigns through SMS and social media will be conducted to ensure that those who work outdoors are protected from the scorching heat.

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The campaign aims to boost health awareness about the risks of heat exposure during the peak of summer and provide resources to prevent heat exhaustion and related health issues among workers exposed to sunlight.

On June 21, the UAE recorded its hottest day of the year so far, with a maximum temperature of 49.9°C in Mezaira, Abu Dhabi at 3.15pm.

At least 6,000 workers will be trained in first aid to respond to heat-related illnesses among their colleagues as part of the ‘Heat Exhaustion Prevention’ campaign.

These details were revealed during a press conference held on Wednesday in Sharjah to announce the launch of the campaign by MoHAP in collaboration with the Supreme Council for Family Affairs (SCFA).

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Midday work ban

Under the theme ‘Your safety is our goal’, the campaign will target workers during the midday work ban period throughout July and August.

The campaign features educational awareness lectures at work sites, focusing on the risks and symptoms of heat exposure, providing first aid, and introducing preventive measures and best practices to avoid heat exhaustion.

It also aims to educate the workers about the risks of heat exhaustion and related diseases, in line with government directives to protect workers’ rights, ensure their safety, and promote a healthy work environment.

The drive includes educational awareness lectures at work sites about the risks and symptoms of heat exhaustion, how to provide first aid, and preventive measures to avoid heat exhaustion.

Free health services

Additionally, it offers free screenings for vision, blood pressure, blood sugar levels, and oral and dental health. Free eyeglasses will be given away to those requiring them.

Workers will also receive personal protection supplies against sunlight, as well as food, water, and gifts, catering to a diverse target group of all nationalities. To promote a healthy lifestyle, the campaign will educate them about food and drinks they can take to ensure proper nutrition and hydration during summer.

Site visits, training

From July 1, the authorities and their partners will conduct site visits, said Mohammed Al Zarooni, director of the Ministry’s Representative Office in Sharjah.

“The campaign aims to preserve the health and safety of the community by spreading health awareness among all its segments, especially workers whose jobs require exposure to sunlight. It will educate them about the risks of heat exhaustion and related diseases, in line with government directives to protect workers’ rights, ensure their safety, and maintain a healthy work environment in line with WHO-approved standards,” he added.

Mira Shuhail, head of Special Programmes Division at Health Education Department of SCFA, said it is a must for companies to provide first aid before medical help arrives when any worker exhibits symptoms of heat stress.

“We will provide them with first aid boxes and our partners will train them in first aid,” she said.

If anybody faints or shows symptoms of heat illnesses, Al Zarooni said, workers who are trained would be able to be first responders till medical aid arrives.

Domestic workers

Al Zarooni told Gulf News a special SMS campaign targeting families in Sharjah will also be conducted. “This is mainly to educate them about the need to protect domestic workers also from heat exhaustion. Housemaids and other domestic workers are required to work outdoors sometimes. So, families employing them need to ensure that they are protected as well.”

“The welfare of all segments of the community is a priority for the UAE government. Through this campaign, we aim to protect the welfare of the workers and recognise their hard work during the peak of summer,” he said.

Managing heat stress

Iman Rashid Saif, director of the SCFA’s Health Promotion Department of SCFA, explained that the campaign will focus on raising awareness about the importance of drinking enough water, wearing appropriate clothing, avoiding direct exposure to sunlight during peak hours, and providing nutritional advice to enhance the body’s resistance to heat. She lauded the support provided by the associations under umbrella the Supreme Council for Family Affairs,

Al Zarooni added: “Community service is a shared responsibility among all government and private entities, institutions, bodies, and individuals working as one team to ensure the well-being of all community members. Such initiatives contribute to building a healthy culture within the community and encourage healthy behaviours through the information, awareness guidance, and preventive measures they provide.”

This is the thirteenth edition of the annual campaign. The campaign will cover different areas in Sharjah including Al Dhaid, Al Hamriya, Kalba, Khorfakkan, Dibba Al Hisn. It will be conducted in multiple languages spoken by the workers.

Partners supporting the campaign include the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation, Sharjah Government Media Bureau, Sharjah Police, Emirates Health Services (EHS), Sharjah Sports Council, Labour Standards Development Authority, Sharjah Municipality, Department of Municipal Affairs, Sharjah Charity International, Sharjah Coop, Sharjah Broadcasting Authority (SBA), Prevention and Safety Authority, Sharjah Volunteering Center- Social Services Department, Emirates Red Crescent, Sharjah Investment and Development Authority (Shurooq), and various private companies.