HYDERABAD / MITHI: The unofficial death toll of children in Tharparkar, blamed on the drought and lack of health facilities, has increased to 78 in three weeks, with nine more deaths reported on Thursday. The health authorities, however, puts the number at 30.
The official denial of the child mortality rate notwithstanding, official figures shared at a meeting in Tharparkar on Thursday revealed an even darker side of the situation. The Civil Hospital Mithi’s civil surgeon Iqbal Ahmed Bhurgari told the meeting’s participants that of the 22,438 people provided medical treatment at the hospital since January 1, 6,333 were children.
In the first 20 days of January 1,735 patients were admitted and 121 were referred to hospitals in Karachi and Hyderabad.
“But only 30 children have died so far this month due to illnesses like diarrhea, pneumonia and other health reasons,” he claimed. “The health department, along with non-profit organisations, is working day and night to control the deaths.”
Among the nine children who reportedly passed away on Thursday, six were newborns. Four of them, the children of Hameed Soomro, Muhammad Mithan, Bilawal Khokhar and Maqbool Nohrio, died at the Civil Hospital. The fifth death, of the three-day old son of Utam Meghwadh, occurred in the Seharh Khuee village.
One-month-old Hamesh Meghwadh died at the Civil Hospital, while one-year-old Mukhtaran Junejo and four-year-old Samina Rind died in their villages where they were getting treatment from private health practitioners. When contacted by The Express Tribune Dr Bhurgari refuted claims that the deaths occurred and claimed that at least 40 children are being treated at the hospital. They were being provided the best possible assistance, he added.
The Peoples Primary Healthcare Initiative’s (PPHI) official, Dr Suneel, said that 12,092 children have been treated since January 1 at the PPHI’s health centres in Tharparkar. Tharparkar deputy commissioner Khuda Dino Shoro asked the health department to send teams of lady health workers to every village to disseminate healthcare awareness. “They should help the families realise that they should take their children to proper health facilities for the treatment,” he urged.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 22nd, 2016.