Tharparkar is back in the spotlight for all the wrong reasons, with the mostly arid district witnessing an upsurge in its child mortality rate. This newspaper reports that the death toll of infants has climbed to 57 in just 45 days in the parched, severely healthcare-deprived region. This is the land, largely neglected by the high-ups, where children under the age of five are especially at risk of dying from entirely preventable diseases because they — more often than not — do not receive basic immunisation.
While the state of its healthcare remains perpetually grim, even by its own standards the district recorded an unusually high child mortality rate in the four months from December to March. Adding insult to injury, the doctors skip their duties at government-run hospitals without any qualms, leaving the poor patients to their own devices. A senior judge during his visit to the Civil Hospital Mithi noted this glaring absenteeism as well as the fact that some doctors had their private clinics near the hospital. But the district’s chief health officer says a dearth of resources at the hospital is to blame for the plethora of problems. Besides, the hospital lacked surgeons and specialists, meaning that the serious cases cannot be attended to there and need to be referred to health facilities outside the district. On its part, the Sindh government attempted to tackle the matter with a measure of seriousness. Some 68 doctors were either appointed or moved from other districts to fill in the 182 vacant posts in the district during the peak of drought in March.
The good step to come to grips with the health challenge apparently failed to yield results, not least because the government has reportedly not paid the newly-hired medics their promised salaries since they joined three months ago. The situation prevailing in the district does not warrant these half-measures. The government must ensure that the medics receive their pay on time so they report to duty and work diligently to tend to the ailing population.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 25th, 2014.
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