Sindh Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah has yet again refuted claims that the drought-related malnutrition among children had caused hundreds of deaths during the last 11 months. “Children are not dying due to hunger but because of various illnesses. Most of them die during birth at the hands of untrained midwives,” he told a press conference after chairing a meeting of the provincial cabinet in Tharparkar on Wednesday.
The ongoing mortality spell, which started in early October, has so far claimed the lives of 51 newborn babies and children under the age of five years. In order to compensate the bereaved families, the district administration has prepared a list of 275 children who died during the last 11 months from malnourishment.
However, the CM stuck to his guns denying that the underfed mothers and children are falling prey to the drought. “What is the government’s fault if the newborns die during births attended by the midwives?” he questioned.
Shah said that a team of doctors from the Aga Khan University Hospital was asked to inspect the Civil Hospital, Mithi’s paediatric ward and submit its findings. He claimed that the report had expressed satisfaction over the available facilities. “Mithi’s hospital is better than all others in Sindh, after Karachi and Hyderabad. People from Umerkot, Badin and other districts come here for treatment.”
To fill the shortcomings, he announced that 665 lady health workers will be trained in midwifery to reduce the birth mortality. Additionally, four mobile medical units for each tehsil of Tharparkar district will also be provided.
To address the shortage of water, the CM claimed that the number of reverse osmosis plants will be increased from the present 77 to 750 by the end of June 2015. “We will regularly send specialist paediatricians and gynecologists to Tharparkar. The health and livestock ministers will come here every week,” he promised. “A child nutrition programme is being started. And, soon the Thar Development Authority will be established after approval from the Sindh Assembly,” he said.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 13th, 2014.