MITHI: Four more children died in Civil Hospital Mithi on Tuesday, after an outbreak of water borne diseases which has claimed the lives of at least 16 children in the last six days.

More than one hundred ailing children, meanwhile, have been admitted to different hospitals in the drought-hit Thar district.

Parents of children brought in to Civil Hospital Mithi told Dawn.com that health personnel were responding with indifference to their children's plight.

Mohammad Hassan Kapri, father of four-year-old Shahzadi who died soon after they reached the hospital, said that the hospital refused to provide an ambulance to help him take his dead daughter's body back to their village. Kapri had travelled from the remote village of Dhani Bux Rind.

The district health officer (DHO) Tharparkar Arjan Das told Dawn.com that despite budget constraints, medics were trying their best to provide healthcare facilities to the children being admitted all over the district, including in Mithi, Chahhchhro, Islamkot, Diplo, Nagarparkar and other villages

Hospitals are facing a shortage of doctors. Only 298 doctors are available, which includes child specialists and female doctors. Meanwhile, over 215 dispensaries remain non-functional in Thar's remote villages.

Civil society members strongly condemned the Sindh government for not taking serious notice of deplorable hospital conditions. They also criticised the management of reverse osmosis plants, which were installed to provide water to rain-dependant inhabitants of Thar.

They demanded that Sindh government start providing the people of Thar with portable water instead.

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Secretary of Health Sindh Mr Saeed Ahmed Mangejo visited the hospital, where he briefly spoke to local journalists.

"The Sindh government has taken notice of the death of children in Thar," he said. "The government is focusing on providing health units with medicines and other facilities so that the outbreak is controlled."

Mangejo said that the budget of Civil Hospital and other health units will be doubled within the next six months. He added that staff would also be posted to 185 dispensaries with all the necessary facilities.

"The situation is under control in Thar," he assured.