KHANEWAL: A minor girl died at a state-run hospital in a sub-district of the impoverished south Punjab on Monday with the family blaming the security protocol of the provincial chief minister who was visiting the facility at the time.

The family alleged that two-year-old girl Komal died of suffocation at the Emergency Ward of the Tehsil Headquarters Hospital Mian Channu, which was closed for security reasons.

The family staged a protest outside the Emergency Ward. “The hospital administration, including medical and paramedical staff, was busy in welcoming Chief Minister Sardar Usman Buzdar. They didn’t provide treatment to my daughter on time knowing well her condition was critical,” said Komal’s mother.

However, witnesses said the minor girl and her mother were inside the Emergency Ward and that the chief minister even visited them to enquire after the health of Komal. They further said that the girl died because of suffocation as the Emergency Ward was crowded when Buzdar was visiting the patients there.

Minor girl among five dead

Dr Mohammad Shahid, the medical superintendent of the hospital, said Komal, who was suffering from thalassemia, died of blood deficiency. “She had earlier been referred to Multan’s Nishtar Hospital where she was treated, but her condition deteriorated again.

Dr Amir, who was on duty at the Emergency Ward at the time, admitted that the girl was under treatment at the THQ hospital but her condition was critical. “We again referred her to Nishtar Hospital, but the family insisted on treating at the THQ Hospital,” he said.

Khanewal’s Deputy Commissioner Ashfaq Ahmad Chauhdry took notice of the incident and constituted an inquiry committee and directed it to submit its report within 24 hours. He, however, told the media that the girl had been provided treatment but she died of deficiency of blood in her body. At the same time, he held out an assurance that if the hospital staff was found negligent in the inquiry, strict action would be taken against them.