KARACHI: As many as 209 children died of measles in the province in 2012, according to one of the written replies tabled in the Sindh Assembly on Monday.
The answers relating to the question hour which pertained to the health department were distributed along with the order of the day in the assembly’s Monday session. Chaired by Speaker Agha Siraj Durrani, the session began over an hour and 20 minutes behind the scheduled time of 10am as mentioned in the order of the day.
The question asked by Pakistan Muslim League-Functional (PML-F) legislator Nusrat Sehar Abbasi was probably submitted to the assembly in 2013 and had been taken up during the question hour after a couple of years as it asked for the district-wise number of deaths during “last year.”
The details in the reply revealed that Sukkur with 33 casualties tops the list of districts with the largest number of deaths. Closely following in the second place was Shikarpur with 32 deaths; while 22 children died in Larkana. Names of some of the other districts and the number of deaths are: Qambar (21 deaths); Dadu (19); Khairpur (16); Karachi (15); Jacobabad (13); and Ghotki (12).
A written reply to a question asked by Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) legislator Dr Seema Zia regarding the number of women who died during pregnancies / deliveries in Khairpur in 2012 and 2013 put the number at 48 women in 2012 and 62 in the year 2013.
The written reply to a question asked by PTI legislator Khurram Sher Zaman regarding the number of sanctioned / vacant posts of doctors and nursing staff at the Civil Hospital Karachi revealed that more than 35 per cent posts were vacant; out of a total of 1,836 sanctioned posts, 655 were vacant. Details of some of the sanctioned posts and vacancies were: out of 378 sanctioned posts of doctors 134 were vacant; nine posts of sister nurses were vacant out of a total of 40 sanctioned posts; some 89 posts of staff nurses were vacant out of 410; one post of nursing superintendent was vacant; out of 239 posts mentioned as “others”, 131 were vacant.
The written reply to a question asked by Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) legislator Kamran Akhtar on whether the chances of the Congo virus spreading were at peak during Eidul Azha, the answer was in the affirmative. However, preventive steps were being taken by the government. To another of his questions the reply said that during the past six years 302 cases of the Congo virus have been reported from Balochistan, 19 in Sindh and three in Punjab.
Responding to a question by MQM legislator Shiraz Waheed regarding the number of prisoners suffering from Hepatitis C, Sindh health minister Jam Mehtab Dahar said that 137 prisoners were suffering from Hepatitis C, of these 59 were in Hyderabad, 71 in Khairpur and seven in Larkana.
Responding to a question by MQM legislator Rashid Khilji regarding the rationale / criteria of setting up only one centre under the Hepatitis Prevention and Control Programme in Mirpurkhas, a relatively large town having a sizeable population, while three centres each had been set up in smaller towns like Dadu, Badin and Naushahro Feroze, the minister said that these had been set up before he was given the portfolio but he would look in to the issue.
Responding to a question by MQM legislator Heer Soho as to when the hepatitis control programme had been initiated, how many patients had benefited from it and how much funds allocated and released, the minister said that the programme was initiated in January 2009 and so far 169,439 patients — of these 143,210 patients had completed the treatment and 26,229 were under treatment — had benefited. Over Rs6 billion had been allocated for the programme while till 2013-14 over Rs5.2 billion had been released. The years in which substantially lesser amounts were released included the years 2012-13 when over Rs402 million less was released; in 2013-14 over Rs214 million less was released while in 2009-10 and 2010-11 over Rs131 million and Rs126 million less were released respectively than the allocations.
The written reply to a question relating to occurrences of hepatitis at Sindh government hospitals in the city between Jan 1, 2011 and Dec 31, 2012 revealed over 12,600 patients suffering from various types of hepatitis. Of these the single largest number of patients — over 11,800 — was suffering from HCV. Names of some of the hospitals where larger number of patients were diagnosed are: Civil Hospital (2,566 patients); Lyari General Hospital (2,305); Saudabad Hospital (1,805); Qatar Hospital (1,484); and 1,068 patients were diagnosed at Liaquatabad Hospital, etc.
The question hour was concluded within 30 minutes, during which 18 questions were disposed of. (Ordinarily hardly four to five questions are answered as many supplementary questions are also asked by other legislators). Out of the 18 questions nobody pressed for eight questions which were asked by PML-F legislator Nusrat Sehar Abbasi (three questions), PTI’s Dr Seema Zia (three questions) and Khurram Sher Zaman (two questions) as they, along with their party fellows, had staged a walkout when they were not allowed to move a resolution at the start of the question hour. Nobody pressed for the three questions asked by MQM legislator Kamran Akhtar who was not present in the assembly.
The remaining question hour also remained very dull with very few “friendly” supplementary questions being asked which were handled very easily by the health minister.
Published in Dawn, May 5th, 2015
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