Famine claims 4 more lives in Thar, death toll mounts to 172

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Thar facing 17.5pc GAM rate among kids; suffers emergencylike situation under WHO law

Islamabad—At least four more children lost their lives in the drought-hit Thar Desert on Thursday, raising the death toll to 172 in 49 days while more than 250 children have been admitted to several hospitals of the district for treatment. Two children died at Civil Hospital Mithi, while two others lost lives in Nagarparkar and its adjoining area, private news channel reported.
The deceased included an eightmonthold Yaqoob, oneyearold Sunita and two infants. On the other hand, two children have been shifted to Hyderabad in critical condition. Meanwhile, Malnourished families have started migrating to Badin and other areas as Tharparkar no longer has fodder for their cattle. The locals are migrating to Thar’s adjoining areas for fodder and due to Sindh government’s inadequate measures.
Tharparkar is a home to more than 60 lac cattle which provide source of income to residents. However, locals have started migrating to other areas as fodder for their cattle is all consumed before the expected time. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO) guidelines, if the Global Acute Malnutrition (GAM) rate among children and women is above 15 percent, it is to be considered an emergency situation. During the National Nutrition Survey conducted in 2011, the GAM rate in the province of Sindh is 17.5 per cent and the Severely Acute Malnutrition (SAM) is 6.6 percent.
Meanwhile, the Sindh Government has distributed free of cost wheat to overcome food shortage in Thar region. Talking to media, Sindh Govt spokesman said 143,973 drought affected families are being provided relief wheat during current phase. He said that under the instructions of Chief Minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah one lakh fortythree thousand nine hundred and seventythree drought affected families are being provided relief wheat during current phase.
He added that during relief each of a total of 220 families have received one wheat bag weighing 50 kg. To a question about medical facilities, he said that fortyfour mobile teams of doctors, trained nurses and lady health workers with essential medical care have been deployed in remote areas of Thar region to provide health care to mothers and to newborn within their villages.
It is also reported that the Sindh Minister for Health, Jam Mehtab Hussain Dahar has directed to vacate hospitals’ premises from illegal occupants. Antiencroachment drive is in full swing in the province these days and all medical superintendents of government hospitals should take advantage of the launch and all illegal occupants should be removed, he said. This he said while presiding over a meeting in his office on Thursday here, said a statement.
He said that the standard of residential areas in hospitals to be improved and residences should be provided to doctors and paramedics on priority basis. While, directing the PD, EPI Sindh, the minister told that a campaign against viral diseases would be launched in April, May and November in three phases and during these drives three million pregnant women from 15 to 49 years of age would be vaccinated.
The meeting was informed that 12 high risk districts Badin, Tando Allahyar, Tando Muhammad Khan, Tharparkar, Umerkot, Shaheed Benazirabad, Ghotki, Kashmore, Jacobabad, Sukkur, Hyderabad and Shikarpur would be given special attention. He further directed to pay special focus on slums and less privileged areas because usually these viral diseases affect these areas. Awareness and adovcay seminars should be held in all big cities of the province and cold storage facilities needed to be of international standard, he concluded. Secretary Health, Dr. Saeed Ahmed Mangnejo and PD, EPISindh Dr. Agha Ashfaque also attended the meeting.—APP