Enraged parents carrying the remains of their dead children staged a protest today at the Mithi Civil Hospital and later outside the Thar Press Club, alleging that hospital staff had refused to provide ambulances to help shift the dead infants back to their respective villages.
At least 10 infants died at the Civil Hospital Mithi during the past two days, raising this year’s infant mortality death toll from six districts hospitals to an alarming 148.
The protesting parents alleged that on-duty doctors demanded Rs5,000 for fuel costs in response to their appeal to afford them an ambulance for transporting the bodies back to their village. After a grueling eight-hour wait the ambulances finally arrived.
Neither the district health officer nor civil surgeon of Mithi Civil Hospital attended phone calls made by this reporter.
Health officials working in Thar’s hospitals 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 increasing number of reported deaths of children.
With Thar’s infant mortality toll for this year at 148, a number of questions regarding the state of health in the desert region ought to be raised.
Dr Shaikh Tanweer Ahmed, an official of the relief organisation Health and Nutrition Development Society (Hands) observed that there was a need to create awareness among the people of Thar to use family planning methods and avoid early marriages.
He claimed his organisation was making a concerted effort to provide maximum relief to the people of Thar especially young children and expecting mothers.
Here it may be noted that a bench of the Sindh High Court on Thursday, rejected the report submitted by concerned officials on deaths of infants in Thar. The chief justice came down hard on officials who turned up and also expressed resentment over the absence of the deputy commissioner of Tharparkar.