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Five children die of measles, malnutrition in Thar – Pakistan

An outbreak of measles and malnutrition claimed the lives of five children in the capital of Sindh’s Tharparkar district, hospital sources and relatives said on Saturday.

With the deaths of the five children at Mithi Civil Hospital in the last 24 hours, the toll of children’s deaths in Thar has risen to 123 this year, according to credible sources.

The parents of the victims while talking to reporters said their children died of measles and other infections and diseases. They held the alleged indifferent attitude of doctors and a lack of life-saving drugs responsible for the deaths.

Despite repeated attempts, neither the district health officer (DHO) nor the hospital’s civil surgeon could be contacted for an official comment on the deaths.

Local health functionaries in Thar had last year stopped sharing details of mortalities with local journalists, allegedly on the direction of high-ups in the health department, after the Supreme Court took suo motu notice of unabated deaths of children in the district.

Dr Shaikh Tanweer Ahmed, the CEO of Health and Nutrition Development Society (Hands), an NGO that works on health and nutrition issues in Thar, said malnutrition was still a major issue in the district and the primary reason behind the continuing deaths of children.

He said the Sindh government should also focus on the nutritional needs of pregnant women so that fatalities of both infants and their mothers could be avoided.

It may be mentioned here that the provincial government had on Friday announced the resumption of free wheat distribution among Tharis after taking notice of the drought-like situation in the desert region.

Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah had approved distribution of free wheat among 287,000 poverty-stricken families of Thar and directed the chief secretary that the wheat distribution should start immediately and be completed by the end of April. Each family will be provided 100 kilogrammes of wheat.

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