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    Sunday, April 30, 2017

    Eight more children, including infants, died in drought-hit Thar

    At least eight more children, including infants, died in drought-hit Thar during the last three days, raising the death toll to 124 this year.
    Three-year-old Bharat Kumar, and newborns Mohammad Aslam and Shankar died in civil hospital in Tharparkar's Mithi area whereas two infants and a two-year-old toddler died in the tehsil headquarters hospital of Nagarparkar.
    Bharat, who was referred from Mithi Civil Hospital to Hyderabad, died on the way to the hospital as the government-owned ambulance carrying the ailing boy broke down due to hot weather.
    Earlier, another infant named Menhal Halepoto also met a similar fate as his ambulance too broke down on its way to Hyderabad.
    In 2016, total fatalities of children in Tharparkar touched 479, of which 404 died in district headquarters Mithi.
    Health officials working in the hospitals in Thar claim higher-ups have barred them from sharing any information with the media ever since the chief justice of Supreme Court took suo moto notice of the climbing number of reported deaths of children.
    Earlier, Thar district health officer (DHO) Dr Mohammad Akhlaq Khan said that he has been strictly forbidden to share such details with the media. "My higher-ups have told me to report all such cases only to them and no one else," he said.
    Notice was taken by Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar on a news report published in a section of the media that more than 11,000 ailing children had been brought to six health facilities in Sindh's Mithi district for treatment since the beginning of this year and at least five infants had died due to malnutrition and diseases at the Civil Hospital.
    Parents of the ailing children complained of lack of facilities in the government hospitals as well as the indifferent attitude of doctors, nursing staff and paramedics.
    They claimed they were being forced to take their ailing children to teaching hospitals in rundown ambulances that did not even have fuel.
    As many of them are poverty-stricken, the parents said they could not afford to pay a sum as big as Rs7,000, the approximate fuel cost for one trip to the nearest hospital outside Thar.
    On Saturday, political workers, including those from the ruling party PPP, took to the streets in Thatrparkar's Chachro area to protest the non-availability of functional ambulances in the district, saying that those available are faulty and unreliable.
    Health officials further told Dawn that so far, they have referred 160 children to hospitals outside the desert region but they could not confirm whether those children survived or not.
    When asked about the prime cause of these deaths, the officials said the wells in remote villages have dried up, which is forcing people, adults and minors alike, to consume contaminated and brackish water, causing illnesses that can be fatal.
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    Item Reviewed: Eight more children, including infants, died in drought-hit Thar Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Abdul Sattar Qamar