At least ten more children lost their lives in Sindh’s Tharparkar district over the past 24 hours due to malnutrition and the outbreak of viral infections and in the region, sources in Mithi Civil Hospital said on Saturday.
The children who lost their lives were hospitalised in the hospital. They include Nashad, 1 year old; Khalida, 2; Intizar Ali, three months old; Marvi, four months old; Abida, five months old; Marvi, 8; Khatoon, 6 months old, Aisha, 8 months old; Dhana, 3 months old; and Shanti, 7 months old.
According to credible sources in the health department, with the death of 10 more infants, deaths of children have risen to 190 in this year alone.
Speaking to local journalists, the parents of the ailing children and those whose children had lost their lives deplored the unavailability of drugs and other medical facilities in nearby health units.
They complained that they had to travel hundreds of miles, in scorching heat, to bring their sick children to Mithi, due to which the condition of the children further deteriorated.
Health and nutrition experts urged the government to take notice of the unabated deaths of the infants in Thar.
Despite repeated attempts, no local health officials could be contacted for their statement on this grave situation.
It is pertinent to mention here that the provincial health authorities admitted before the Sindh High Court (SHC) earlier that 1,340 children had died in drought-hit areas of Tharparkar since 2014.
A bench comprising two judges directed the provincial chief secretary, health secretary and others to submit a detailed report on implementation of the court-appointed commission’s recommendations to mitigate the situation in the desert region. Reports were also filed by the secretaries of the provincial health and food departments.
The food secretary had informed the judges that free wheat had been distributed among the people in the drought-hit areas in 10 phases so far. He said a summary for the procurement of 270,000 wheat bags had been sent to the chief minister for approval.
He said that 332 out of total 517 posts of specialist doctors, surgeons and other experts were lying vacant in the district. The secretary said four posts of surgeons were vacant. The secretary informed the judges that there were 10 posts of gynaecologists of which six were vacant. While there were 10 posts of child specialists but only two doctors were performing their duties. He further explained that 168 out of 658 posts of lab technicians were also vacant.
The court was informed that 462,000 children had been brought to the out-patient department at the Mithi District Headquarters Hospital since 2014. The deceased children included 341 underweight children below five years of age. The report stated that 36 children died from respiratory diseases, 36 from malnutrition and 14 from diarrhoea. There was also shortage of ambulances in the district.