UMERKOT: The health department packed up its camp on Wednesday which it had set up following the death of nine children from measles at Mithoo Jogi Colony, Kunri taluka.

The residents of the colony told Dawn that the department had reached there after two weeks of the death of the children when the media highlighted the issue. They added that the health officials set up the camp for three days and then rolled it back despite the fact that three more children had lost their lives a day earlier.

Students of government primary school staged a protest against the callous attitude of the health officials and held slates with appeals like “save us from unnatural deaths”.

50 more children have symptoms of same disease in the Umerkot village

A villager Laaloo Jogi said a boy named Ramchand had suffered high fever with tiny white spots inside his mouth and died within a week. About 50 more children have suffered with the same illness with dry cough, sore throat, runny nose and inflamed eyes but the health department winded up its camp after giving them treatment for only three days.

“The children have not recovered fully yet,” he said.

Another villager Balam Jogi complained that the men of the Jogi community were illiterate and had to travel to all over the country in search of livelihood while their women and children stayed at the colony. He added that no health official ever visited them to vaccinate their children against any disease.

He further said they were treated badly in public hospitals and had to get treatment from private clinics. Balam said they faced more difficulties when their pregnant women face complications while giving birth.

Loung Jogi said his community had 850 families which had been living in the gypsy colony since 1987. He added that they had been living under extreme poverty and in unhygienic conditions due to unavailability of drinking water and health facilities, especially routine vaccination.

He further said women of his community had to travel for several kilometers everyday to fetch water.

District health officer (DHO) Karmoon Mal had earlier told journalists that whenever vaccinators visited their colony they found them absent. When Dawn contacted him on Wednesday on the issue of removing of camp, he avoided to comment and disconnected the call.

Primary school teacher Laeq Sand, posted in the village school, refused the buy the argument of the DHO, and said women and children always stayed in the colony even if the male members of the family moved out of station for work.

Published in Dawn, September 28th, 2017

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