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January 1, 2015

Promises didn’t make Sindh any healthier in 2014


January 1, 2015

The year 2014 did not makes lives better for the people of Sindh in terms of healthcare, and the provincial government stuck to merely making announcements instead of actually starting new projects and facilitating the masses.
Several people died in Karachi of infectious diseases including dengue and Congo hemorrhagic fever and the brain-eating amoeba, Naegleria fowleri, also claimed many lives.
The provincial health authorities, however, took no significant steps to improve health facilities and the environmental conditions to control such outbreaks.
The battle with polio continued to suffer setbacks in the year as over two dozen children were diagnosed with the disease, most of them in Karachi.
The provincial managers of the Expanded Program of Immunisation appeared helpless in eliminating the disease.
The provincial government’s biggest failure was seen in Tharparkar, where hundreds of children died of malnutrition and lack of basic health facilities. Many women also lost their lives during childbirth.
The government failed to provide immediate and relief and avert the loss of lives in the drought-hit district.
The control of the health department returned to the Pakistan People’s Party after the Muttahida Qaumi Movement parted ways with the provincial government and Jam Mehtab Dahar was appointed its minister replacing Dr Sagheer Ahmed in October.
The government announced several projects during the year to provide more and better health facilities to the masses including five new medical colleges, a rescue ambulance service, four blood transfusion centres with foreign funding and seven thalassaemia centres, but none of these projects were started.
The government also announced that it would set up five new burns centres and an accident and trauma centre but these projects could not kick off as well.
The provincial budget for the fiscal year 2014-15 contained allocations for the rescue ambulance service,

health call centres, a central diagnostic centre at the Civil hospital, expansion of the OPDs at major hospitals in the province, a solar energy cold chain system to maintain the efficacy of the vaccines and various other major and minor schemes, but the government was unable to start working on them.
In fact, the Benazir Bhutto trauma and accident centre project, a project announced six years ago, could also not be materialised this year.
The provincial government had announced setting up a major, tertiary-care hospital with 400 beds in Gulshan-e-Iqbal in Karachi. But it failed to even perform its ground-breaking.
Another area of neglect was the promotion of medical education in the province.
The previous coalition provincial government of the PPP and the Muttahida Qaumi Movement had announced that it would establish five new medical colleges and also laid their foundation stones.
The government had earmarked Rs1.14 billion for setting up these medical colleges in Sanghar, Mirpurkhas, Khairpur, Karachi and Hyderabad and they had to be completed by 2014, but no headway was made in this regard too.
The state of healthcare deteriorated in the province, especially in Karachi, where three major hospitals were transferred to provincial control after the 18th Constitutional Amendment.
These services at these hospitals suffered because of lack of attention, monitoring and funding by the provincial government.
The provincial government’s inability to run these hospitals can be gauged from the fact that it has recently announced privatising the National Institute of Cardiovascular Diseases, the National Institute of Child Health and the Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre. More than 5,000 patients died during treatment at the JPMC alone during the outgoing year.

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