Child mortality rates are widely considered a telling indicator of the quality of life in any region. And as much as the Sindh government would want to brush the issue of child mortality in Thar under the rug, it continues to haunt the region and those responsible. More than 190 children and infants have reportedly died in the district since the beginning of this year. Last week alone, ten children lost their lives. Over the years, children have been dying at an increasing rate but underneath the alarming mortality figures are basic issues that hamper human existence in the area. The cause of this unending tragedy is no mystery nor is it God’s unending wrath – it is obvious and known to all of us, including those who sit at the helm of affairs. Perennial failures to provide adequate healthcare, infrastructure, missing public policy action, persistent economic inequalities and the general neglect are the main causes that trigger infant deaths.
Extreme poverty, rapid population growth and high illiteracy rates have confined the region in a state of perpetual suffering and inertia. And through it all, the authorities remain cold, distant and unconcerned. Each year, the death toll climbs, toothless inquiry commissions are created, and ad hoc emergency plans are rolled out by the provincial government. But none of these measures seem to have the ability to stop the recurring misfortune that has tormented the impoverished region for so long. In Tharparkar, there is a dire need for better policies and better infrastructure that can provide the much needed basic facilities of healthcare, clean water and food to the hapless people of the district. It is about time that our provincial lawmakers and those on the ground must end the policy of looking without seeing and listening without hearing. The children of Tharparkar deserve better.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 16th, 2018.