Five more babies die in Tharparkar, death toll 250 in five months

May 30, 2018
Faqeer Saleem

A Pakistani villager tends to her sick child at a government hospital in the famine-affected Tharparkar district on March 13, 2014. Photo: AFP

Five more children died in Tharparkar of malnutrition, taking the death toll to 250 in the past five months.

Sixteen children have died in this one week in the desert region that borders India.

Tharparkar is one of Pakistan’s poorest districts spread over nearly 20,000 square kilometres in the country’s southeast. It is located at a distance of 300 kilometres from Karachi. A large population of minority Hindus lives in the area.

Mithi is the main town in the district, where the Civil Hospital is located. The hospital is in a shambles. Parents of sick children often complain of a shortage of medicines at Civil Hospital. The hospital’s civil surgeon, Syed Ameer Ali Shah, told SAMAA TV that the facility lacks specialists and senior doctors. Only nine nurses are posted in the hospital against 19 vacancies, he said. There is only one gynaecologist for the 1.6 million population of Tharparkar district.

Doctors say malnutrition and severe heat are contributing to the increasing number of deaths.

By Tuesday, 245 children had already died when the director-general of Sindh’s health department, Dr Akhlaq Ahmed Memon, arrived in Tharparkar. According to him, he had come to “review the deaths”. On Wednesday, he said he is still reviewing the situation.

The United Nations has put Pakistan on the list of countries with highest mortality rates with 22 infants dying before even turning one month old.