Pneumonia deaths in K-P

Ninety children died of the disease in January alone in the province

Editorial March 05, 2019

These are plain tales from Pakistan. Ninety children died of pneumonia in January alone in Kyhyber-Pakhtunkhwa province. Infants continue to die of malnutrition in Sindh’s Thar region. Five hundred died in 2017 and 600 in 2018. In 2012, more than 200 patients died in the Punjab Institute of Cardiology, Lahore, after they were given a contaminated drug. Some sources claim these patients died due to both contaminated medicine and insertion of substandard stents. Sources also attribute these deaths to free medicines; free medicines perhaps do not distinguish between human beings and animals. Whether prescribed by human physicians or vets: medicines are medicines.

In K-P, of the 90 deaths, 63 occurred in Lady Reading Hospital, 17 in Khyber Teaching Hospital, and 10 in Hayatabad Medical Complex. All the three hospitals are in Peshawar, the province’s capital. Sources in the health department told this newspaper one reason why infant mortality rate is so high in K-P is shortage of beds in these major hospitals. In one paediatric ward, 4-5 children are accommodated on one bed, as result of which complications arise, and this raises the death rate. Other children are also affected by diseases since children’s immune system is weak. This can only be attributed to accommodating patients in wards far in excess of their capacity. The sources said the authorities have been informed about the shortage of beds but so far things have remained unmoved. During the tenure of the previous government, three hospitals for children were established in different cities, but they are not yet fully functional due to lack of funds. So patients are taken to the three hospitals in Peshawar. Hence the overcrowding at the latter hospitals. This shows that most projects are undertaken to win elections and after elections there is the usual shortage of funds. The sources said there are few child specialists in the province, and in some areas there is none. Plain tales for good luck. 

Published in The Express Tribune, March 5th, 2019.

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