Over 500 children died in drought-hit Thar this year, Murad told
KARACHI: Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah was on Friday told that the number of children that had died during 2018 in the desert region of Thar was highest in past four years.
Health Secretary Usman Chachar briefed the chief minister at a high-level meeting held here that over 505 children died in Thar during the current year.
He said 450 children died in the region in 2017; 479 died in 2016 and 398 children lost their lives in 2015.
He said that the deaths took place because of various reasons, including pre-term/low birth weight, birth asphyxia, severe pneumonia, neonatal sepsis, respiratory distress syndrome (RDS), acute malnutrition with complication, sepsis (under five) and diarrhoea.
The CM has asked public-sector medical universities to set up camps in the desert region
The chief minister said that despite making huge investment in every sector in Thar “we are still receiving news of infant and child deaths which is quite painful and depressing for me, therefore we have to make a holistic approach to resolve the issue for good”.
He directed the health department to widely and properly implement the mother-child health programme in letter and spirit.
Medical varsities asked to set up camps
At the same meeting, the CM directed all public-sector medical universities to set up health camps in the desert region.
The meeting was attended by vice chancellors of different public and private sector universities, eight provincial ministers, Chief Secretary Mumtaz Shah and others.
He also issued directives to explore alternative employment opportunities for the people of the region to resolve the issue for good.
He directed the chief secretary to ensure implementation of family planning, nutrition programme and provision of clean drinking water by making all the closed reverse osmosis plants functional.
The meeting was also informed about the rainfall in different cities and towns of Thar.
The chief minister directed the chief secretary and Education Minister Syed Sardar Shah to review the Drought Mitigation Act and give a detailed presentation to him so that it could be implemented with necessary improvements.
“I am of the view that a Thar commission or authority be established to implement all the programmes under one roof,” he said.
167 dehs affected due to less rains
The chief minister was told that 167 dehs of Tharparkar were affected on account of untimely and inadequate rainfall during monsoon season.
“Wheat relief has been given to 276,152 heads of families in seven talukas of Thar at a scale of 50kg. Some 116,713 families have received wheat till Oct 16,” the meeting was told.
The chief secretary informed the CM that some 850 RO plants would be made functional by December.
The chief minister was also informed that 18 small dams, including 10 from annual development programme and eight from the public sector development programme, had been completed at a cost of Rs2.583 billion and nine others were being constructed at a cost of Rs1.2bn.
The meeting was informed that 587 RO plants were working in different areas of Thar, installation of 247 more RO plants was in progress while 834 would be installed by December.
The chief minister was told that 726,602 animals had been vaccinated. At this, CM Shah directed the livestock and wildlife departments to provide fodder, treatment of animals and wildlife in the remote areas.
The chief minister said that his government was making important interventions for poverty reduction. “Five goats and 10 hens are being distributed in each and every family in the remote areas and the programme would benefit 300 families. So far 256 families have taken benefit and 54 families are yet to receive.”
The CM directed all provincial ministers to keep visiting all government facilities such as schools, health facilities, RO plants/water schemes in Thar to keep a check on their performance.
He also directed the health department to establish a health information management system not only for Thar but for whole Sindh.
This system would not only expose the performance/negligence of each and every hospital but it would be helpful to make necessary interventions for improvement, he added.
Published in Dawn, October 20th, 2018