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August 13, 2018

More deaths in Thar

Editorial

August 13, 2018

The Tharparkar region has faced erratic rainfall this year, contributing to the drought situation that has persisted in the desert area for many years. According to hospital sources, the overall death toll for children in Mithi this year alone stands at over 380. Over the last few days it has risen following the deaths of seven infants who died as a result of the outbreak of viral diseases combined with the ongoing malnutrition factor. Currently over 70 children have been admitted to six health facilities in the district; the children were suffering from various infections. The lack of potable water and contamination of the scarce resource of available water contributes to these diseases. As has been noticed in the past, despite government’s claims there has been a failure to develop a policy to alleviate the sufferings of the people of Thar.

The people of the region are demanding that the Sindh government immediately declare an emergency in the drought-hit area and begin the supply of relief goods to provide aid to people who believe they are no longer able to survive. According to reports, a number have started to migrate with their livestock to areas closer to barrages and waterholes. The death of livestock due to the water shortage and the lack of food to feed on as plants vanish also mean people have fewer sources of food with diminishing stocks of livestock able to provide only limited milk and other produce. This is a situation that has continued year after year. The lack of rainfall in the region has led to a malnutrition crisis that in fact continued with only brief periods of relent. Experts believe climate change is one of the factors responsible for this but it is also true that perhaps the biggest factor is government negligence and the failure to provide piped water to the people of Thar even in larger settlements. In addition to this, health facilities in the impoverished region are completely inadequate – with many clinics not staffed. These problems contribute to deaths and the regular outbreak of disease in a region that is badly in need of far greater official attention.

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