18 health units in Umerkot are non-functional: SHC told

KARACHI: District and Session Judge Umerkot has reported to the Sindh High Court (SHC) that Sindh government has not taken serious efforts for filling the vacant posts of doctors, paying compensation to drought victims, releasing funds for the potable water supply schemes in famine-hit areas.

Following the court order, district and sessions judge Umerkot, Suresh Kumar submitted a report to SHC after conducting inquiry into the effectiveness of the relief activities being carried out by federal and provincial governments in famine-hit areas of Umerkot district.

In his report, he said, according to administration of Umerkot Hospital, 54 deaths were reported at the hospital, out of which 35 were under-five children who belonged to the drought-hit areas.

The judge pointed out that several posts of doctors, civil surgeons, gynecologists, pediatricians and other medical specialists were lying vacant in Umerkot hospital, adding 130 doctors were serving against the sanctioned strength of 401.

He said that he visited the DHQ Umerkot along with other judges and found that 23 children were under treatment at the hospital, besides the elderly patients but no any pediatrician was posted there. “Patients are suffering a lot due to unavailability of civil surgeon, physician, pathologist, skin specialist, gynecologist, radiologist and other health specialists. On enquiry, head of DHQ said the posts were lying vacant since 2007.” The judge added, “X-ray machine was not working since last two years. Low quality medicines were available at the all government hospitals and health centers.”

He said out of 29 rural health centers, basic health units and government dispensaries established in the drought-hit areas of Umerkot, 18 were not functioning properly. The judge said people say two pipeline schemes Chhor Khokhropar and Ratnore-Banghal are functional which are under administrative control of the Pakistan Army. Around 40000 population of the affected areas are getting water from these schemes while no scheme was approved for the rest of the population of the district.

He said that it has come to the light during inquiry that a water supply scheme for Umerkot was under construction since last seven years which can supply water to adjoining desert areas as well as Umerkot city but the scheme could not be completed.

He said no future planning has been shared by the Umerkot depty commissioner. Besides, the judge pointed out that the federal government has not issued any grant. Even federal government has not taken efforts to expedite the work on the second phase of Rani Canal which can provide irrigation and drinking water to the famine-hit areas of Umerkot and Tharparkar.

While hearing a petition filed by Pakistan Institute of Labour and Education Research (PILER) and other NGOs, the court had issued directives for concerned district judges in Tharparkar and Umerkot to examine the ongoing relief work there and also gather information about recent deaths by the famine.

The petitioner had pleaded to the court to take action against the authorities over their failure so as to provide relief and health facilities to the people of famine-hit Tharparkar.

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