KARACHI: As many as 238 more deaths were reported from different public and private hospitals in Karachi on Wednesday due to heat stroke, dehydration and diarrhoea as the death toll during the last five days reached 950.
Health officials said there was a small reduction in the number of heat stroke patients by Wednesday evening.
While the temperature dropped a little on Wednesday, with a maximum of 37 degrees Celsius with 63 percent humidity recorded, power outages and water shortages continued in the city as around 200 patients undergoing treatment lost their lives at various health facilities.
Thousands of patients were still battling for life at the overburdened public hospitals including the Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre (JPMC), Civilpatients undergoing treatment for heat stroke, dehydration, diarrhoea and other water-borne diseases lost their lives at various health facilities.
Many areas of the city faced power outages from Tuesday night to Wednesday evening and K-Electric officials attributed these breakdowns to technical faults, while people in many areas blamed the power utility for not listening to their phone calls for rectifying the faults and restoration of electricity.
Hospitals, both public and private, were still overburdened with the heat stroke patients and were packed to capacity when government functionaries including MNAs, MPAs, senators and other high ups started ‘cosmetic’ visits of the public hospitals, drawing the ire of patients and their relatives who are lying in the hospitals in miserable conditions due to shortage of doctors, paramedics and medicines.
National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) Chairman Major General Asghar Nawaz visited the JPMC but had to face stiff criticism from the media, people, relatives and attendants of the patients who were extremely annoyed over the federal and provincial governments’ response to the natural disaster that has so far claimed hundreds of lives in Karachi and rest of Sindh. The NDMA chief visited different wards and camps set up by the Pakistan Army at the JPMC premises and sought details of the patients and health facilities available at the hospital but had to cut his visit short due to protest and criticism from the patients and their attendants.
Heat relief centres of Sindh Rangers at 10 locations in Karachi continued to provide relief and treatment to heat stroke patients where dozens more patients were admitted in the wards and intensive care Units (ICUs) while dozens of patients were discharged after provision of necessary treatment and advises by the doctors and paramedics of the paramilitary force.
The Pakistan Army’s four relief and treatment camps at different hospitals also shared the burden of the public hospitals where military physicians and paramedics provided treatment and medicines to patients brought at hospitals including JPMC, Abbasi Shaheed Hospital and other public hospitals in the city.
The Pakistan Navy also has established heat stroke centres where an unannounced number of patients were provided treatment on Wednesday but neither the locations of these centres nor the number of patients were shared with the media.
The JPMC authorities claimed that death toll due to intense heat related illnesses including heat stroke and dehydration crossed 311 till Wednesday evening, saying as many as 56 patients had died at the hospital since Tuesday night while more patients were still pouring into the hospital on the fifth day since the intense heat started killing people in Karachi.
“So far we have treated 7,500 patients with heat stroke and related illnesses since Saturday last. As many as 41 persons, including women and elderly persons, died since Tuesday night till Wednesday evening, some of them were brought dead at the hospital,” Joint Executive Director JPMC Dr Seemi Jamali told The News.
She said the number of patients had dropped as compared to Sunday, Monday and Tuesday but added that still they were in an emergency like situation, facing overwhelmingly large number of patients undergoing treatment at different wards while casualty and emergency department was performing at its optimum level.
Dr Jamali said she was now hearing about dignitaries’ visit to the hospital including Sindh Chief Minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah and some senators and federal government officials.
Situation was not better at other public and private hospitals in the city as Civil Hospital authorities reported that death toll due to intense heat and heat-related illnesses reached 110 during last couple of days and dozens more died on Wednesday during treatment at the health facility.
Then number of deaths at Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC) run hospitals including Abbasi Shaheed Hospital crossed the figure of 210 on Tuesday, showing around 90 deaths on Tuesday alone while thousands of patients were still under treatment in different wards and sections of these hospitals.
For the first time in last five days, Patel Hospital, a private hospital in Gulshan-e-Iqbal area, reported 23 deaths, without elaborating whether they lost lives during last five days or alone on Wednesday while Ziauddin Hospitals in North Nazimabad, Kemari and Clifton also reported a dozen more deaths.
Some other private hospitals in the city including Liaquat National Hospital (LNH) reported seven more deaths while others also reported five to seven deaths, raising the death toll to over 200 on Wednesday alone.
Agencies add: Sindh Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah led a sit-in against K-Electric over loadshedding in the province which caused hundreds of deaths.The sit-in was staged in the premises of the Sindh Assembly where provincial ministers and leaders of the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) were also present.
Qaim Ali Shah demanded of Water and Power Minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif to compensate the families of those who died in Karachi heat wave. He said that there should be no loadshedding in Sindh during the month of Ramazan as the federal government had promised.