Thar deaths: CM orders doubling of Mithi hospital budget

Source: Published in Politics on Friday, January 8, 2016

KARACHI: Taking serious notice of the situation in Thar, Sindh Chief Minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah has said that although his government has worked a lot for poverty alleviation in Thar and to some extent it has controlled the situation, still a lot needs to be done because his government cannot ignore problems of the poor people living in the desert area.

“We have to respond quickly and forcefully by further improving health services and enhancing the capacity of reverse osmosis (RO) plants,” he said while presiding over a meeting held to review issues of Thar and redress them here at CM House on Thursday.

The meeting was attended by provincial ministers Syed Murad Ali Shah, Jam Mehtab Dahar, Syed Nasir Shah, Jam Khan Shoro, Ali Hassan Hingorjo, chief secretary Siddique Memon, additional chief secretary (development) Aijaz Ali Khan, principal secretary Alamuddin Bullo, health secretary Saeed Mangnijo and other officers.

The chief minister said that his government had given special attention to the development of Thar.

“We have made the Mithi district hospital a unique health facility equipped with most modern equipment. We have provided 13 incubators to the hospitals of Tharparkar, which are more than any other district of the northern and central parts of the province and it has four 4×4 ambulances,” he said.

Secretary of health Saeed Mangnijo gave a report of his recent visit to Thar and said that over the past six days 14 newborns had died because of premature births, but two of them had diarrhoea. Apart from them, out of 14 children three were from nearby districts.

He said that the Mithi hospital had the highest outpatient department ratio than the district hospitals of Mirpurkhas, Sanghar and Badin because of its best health facilities in the region.

Parents usually took their patients/children from nearby districts to Mithi because of best health services, he said and added that its annual budget was Rs146 million, which fell short because of growing pressure from other districts.

On this the chief minister ordered to increase the budget of Mithi hospital by 100 per cent to the tune of Rs292 million.

The commissioner of Mirpurkhas division gave his report and said that he had visited entire Thar. “There is no drought anywhere in the desert. People had cultivated their traditional crops and they had enough food/grain and fodder,” he said.

He said that since the hospitals were located in district and taluka headquarters, transportation of patients from far-flung areas took time.

“I would suggest the provision of 4x4 ambulances/vehicles for transporting patients,” he said.

Upon this the chief minister directed Finance Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah to arrange necessary funds and provide six (4×4) ambulances to all six taluka hospitals/rural health centres of Tharparkar on immediate basis.

The ministers assured the chief minister that they would arrange ambulances/vehicles for the hospitals of Thar as soon as possible till the purchase/arrangement of new ambulances.

MPA from Thar Dr Mahesh Malani, who attended the meeting on a special invitation, said that he was a resident of Thar. “Neither there is a drought, nor any shortage of health facilities, it is only an exaggeration in the media.”

He urged the chief minister, however, to establish the Thar development authority so that it could work as an umbrella organisation to address issues of missing facilities and development.

He said that out of 400 RO plants, 100 were out of order for which the chief minister directed chief secretary Siddique Memon to get them repaired at the earliest.

“It is the commitment of our leadership to provide clean drinking water to the people of Thar. I want this problem fixed at the earliest,” he said.

Mr Mahesh suggested to imparting midwifery and nursing training to local girls so that they could be appointed in government hospitals, maternity homes, and dispensaries. On this the chief minister directed Health Minister Jam Mehtab Dahar to implement the suggestion of the MPA.

The chief minister also approved the up-gradation of Islamkot and Chhachhro taluka hospitals, which would reduce the burden on Mithi hospital.

The chief minister decided to constitute a five-member ministerial committee comprising Health Minister Jam Mehtab Dahar, Livestock Minister Jam Khan Shoro, Food Minister Syed Nasir Shah, CM adviser on relief and rehabilitation Ali Hassan Hingorjo and MPA Dr Mahesh Malanni with the task to visit Thar and identify problems and solve them on war-footings.

“I would provide you necessary funds and facilities; therefore you (committee members) have to solve the problems without delay,” the chief minister said.

The committee would also go through the Thar and Kohistan Development Authorities draft law and remove lacunae in it, if any, and suggest constitution of a board of development authorities.

“I want to constitute the board comprising elected representatives and senior government officers so that the authorities could be established without any further delay.”

The others who attended the meeting were secretary of fisheries and livestock Ramzan Awan, food secretary Saeed Awan, the DG of health, DCs of Mithi and Dadu.

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