Worsening situation: As if drought was not enough, Congo takes to Tharparkar

Mohammad Sakhi Nohri, 50, died at the Aga Khan Hospital on Friday.

Our Correspondent November 22, 2014


While the pervasive drought has claimed around 300 lives in Tharparkar this year, a Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever (CCHF) case surfaced in the Chachro taluka of the district and claimed a life.

Fifty-year-old Muhammad Sakhi Nohri, who belonged to the Khiyaro Habib village in Chachro, was brought to Civil Hospital, Umerkot, on Wednesday in a critical condition. He was taken to Civil Hospital, Hyderabad, by his family but doctors advised that he be shifted to Karachi.

Nohri was taken to the Aga Khan Hospital where he died during treatment. The provincial authorities claimed that they had taken notice of the first Congo case from Tharparkar. However, not a single official visited him until his death.

While confirming the Congo fever case, Karachi health services director Dr Zafar Ejaz said that a total 11 cases have been reported this year.  "We have to investigate the cause," he said. "The disease is preventable since it transfers from animals to human not human to human."

"Nohri dealt with livestock. It was his business," said Nohri's nephew, Muhammad Ramzan, while talking to The Express Tribune. "We are told that it's a deadly disease. I don't know how much it will affect other people in the area."

"I can't understand why the provincial government is not taking Tharparkar seriously," said former provincial minister for relief and rehabilitation and Pakistan Relief Foundation chairperson Haleem Adil Sheikh.

Sheikh, who recently visited different villages of Tharparkar, said that proper investigation should be initiated. He added that he suspected others had also died due to CCHF. "Not all people from Tharparkar could afford private hospitals," he said.

This is the fourth life lost to the tick-borne viral disease in Sindh in less than four months. According to officials of the health department, this was the seventh case reported from the province. Sources in the health department believe that the number of cases could be more than that on record.

The body was shifted to Nohri's native village after medico-legal formalities at the hospital. The provincial health secretary could not be reached for comments despite repeated attempts.

The unrelenting drought spell, compounded by poverty, poor nutrition and lack of health facilities and awareness, continues to take its toll on the children of Tharparkar.

Drought claims lives of three more children

Three more deaths were reported in the drought-hit area of Tharparkar on Friday. Two of the deceased were infants while the third was only three-years-old.

The death toll has now gone up to 100 since October. Four more deaths were reported on Thursday. A two-month old Irshad Ali, son of Asghar Ali, died on the way to Karachi after he was referred by Civil Hospital, Mithi.

Three-year-old Gautam Kolhi, son of Chander Kolhi, died in the Sunder village in Islamkot while two-week old infant Bhavna, daughter of Dewaan Meghwadh, died in Mithi.

Published in The Express Tribune, November 22nd, 2014.


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