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November 16, 2019

Six-year-old boy battling for life after stray dogs bite most of his face, scalp off


November 16, 2019

With his both cheeks, nose, one of the ears, eyelids and much of scalp bitten off by stray dogs in a savage attack, six-year-old Hasnain from Larkana is fighting for life in the Intensive Care Unit of the National Institute of Child Health (NICH) in Karachi, where a team of maxillofacial surgeons from the NICH and Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Center (JPMC) performed an hours-long surgery on Friday to save his life.

Hasnain had just stepped out of his home to fetch something from a nearby shop, said his father, Ghulam Hussain, when a pack of five to six dogs attacked him and mauled him almost to death by biting most of his face and scalp off.

“By the time some passers-by reached there, the dogs had bitten his entire face, including both cheeks, nose, ears, eyelids and most of the skin on his head. We took him to Chandka Medical Centre, but after giving some initial treatment, the medical superintendent asked us to take my son to Karachi for saving his life,” said Hussian while talking to newsmen at the NICH.

But worse had yet to come for the critically injured boy and his family after they were refused treatment by the Indus Hospital Karachi’s administration, citing the lack of an intensive care unit and space, and the Civil Hospital Karachi’s administration also refused to admit the child, asking them to take him to Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Center (JPMC) for surgery and treatment.

“Neither the government hospital in Larkana nor two hospitals in Karachi, including Indus and Civil, tried to save the life of my child. At last, I managed to reach the NICH where doctors have performed an hours-long surgery and are trying to save his life,” Hussain said and cursed the provincial government and the health authorities in Sindh for their failure to provide treatment to poor people of the province.

A team of four surgeons -- plastic surgeon Ghulam Shabir and maxillofacial surgeon Dr Jahan-e-Alam from the JPMC and Dr Anwar Arain and Dr Jamshaid of the NICH, performed an hours-long surgery and tried to reconstruct the face of the child, but health officials said the condition of the patient was still critical.

“The condition of Hasnain, the ill-fated child from Larkana, is critical and the next 48 hours are very crucial for his life. A team of surgeons from the NICH and the JPMC did their best to save his life while he is in the intensive care after the surgery. Further surgeries would be required once his condition is out of danger,” Dr. Jamal Raza said.

He said that prior to surgery, the child was vaccinated against rabies and other infectious disease while he was being given every possible treatment to save his life. He urged the parents to take care of their children and protect them from stray dogs, which could cause life-threatening injuries.

Executive Director JPMC Dr Seemin Jamali said she had sent her two surgeons to the NICH to help their surgeons with the face reconstruction surgery. She deplored that incidents of canine attacks, especially against children, were on the rise with each passing day.

“There is an immediate need to control the population of stray dogs as early as possible or we would continue to see deaths and misery due to canine attacks in Karachi and the rest of the province. It is to be decided whether to kill them or lock them up somewhere away from the city immediately, but we don’t have time to wait for their population to end through sterilisation,” she added..

Minister visits NICH

Sindh Health Minister Dr Azra Pechuho rushed to the NICH to inquire about the health of the ill-fated child and defended the performance of the biggest hospital in Larkana, saying the reason behind the absence of facilities at the Chandka Medical Centre was doctors and surgeons’ refusal to work in the distant city of the province.

“Specialists and surgeons are not willing to work in Larkana, so the surgery of the child was not possible there. The child was brought here at NICH and his parents are satisfied with the treatment here,” she said and reiterated that it was the job of the municipal bodies, not of the health department, to eliminate stray dogs.

Federal Minister Faisal Vawda, Leader of Opposition in the Sindh Assembly Shamim Firous Naqvi, Khurram Sher Zaman and others also reached the NICH and strongly criticised the provincial government, Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah and the health minister, and demanded of them to immediately resign for their failure to protect lives of citizens and the absence of basic health facilities in the province.