Tharparkar death toll crosses 100: Sindh Health Minister

KARACHI: On Monday, Sindh Health Minister Jam Mehtab Dahar said as the reports of the deaths in the Tharparkar crossed the 100 mark; the media has not played a fair role in reporting the number of the deaths of children in the region where the drought had hit hard.

The death toll is at 112 according to the official estimates record, with over 100 deaths reported in January alone.

Jam Mehtab maintains the number of deaths is far less. He said that in the past month, only 32 children have died and doctors in Thar are complaining that the media is reporting incorrect facts and figures about deaths in the region.

Tharparkar Deputy Commissioner Khuda Dino Shoro, who visited the Civil Hospital in Mithi earlier, said the situation was under control.

Slogans of shame were hurled at the Sindh government for not handling the matter in a timely manner. Officials lament the shortage of doctors, paramedics and health professionals.

The government’s tall claims of providing healthcare facilities to nearly 1.5 million people are questionable, since many of these facilities are left closed and unattended.

The People’s Primary Healthcare Initiative (PPHI), for example, has been catering to 21 per cent of the Thar area. It hosts 49 facilities, including 18 dispensaries and 31 BHUs.

But despite frequent protests by villagers, and assurances from representatives and elected members in Thar, Soomro says the villagers are forced to travel to distant towns to seek treatment for the most common of diseases.

Sindh Health Minister Jam Mehtab Dahar claimed that medical specialists, gynecologists, pediatricians and paramedical staff are available at all hospitals in Tharparkar round the clock.

The minister, who was speaking at a press conference in his office regarding the Thar situation, said that 316 children died in Tharparker this year due to various reasons while the government was making all out efforts to control the situation.

Mr Mehtab said all district officers for health had been instructed to improve hospitals working within 10 days. They had been asked to ensure clean environment in hospitals and that available resources were used to provide necessary facilities to patients.

Doctors and paramedical staff were performing their duty in all taluka hospitals, while 23 ambulance vehicles were provided to cater to primary healthcare needs in the far-flung areas.

Mr Mehtab also announced that 32 doctors were being promoted from grade 19 to 20; 280 doctors from grade 18 to 19; and 716 doctors from grade 17 to 18 in compliance with rules and regulations.