KARACHI: The Supreme Court on Wednesday constituted a commission to conduct an inquiry into causes of death of eight infants in Tharparkar district, where the level of malnutrition remains high due to frequent drought.

Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar directed the commission, headed by Additional Inspector General of police Sanaullah Abbasi, to submit a report to the court in two months.

Heading a three-judge bench at the SC’s Karachi registry, the chief justice also directed the authorities concerned to appoint doctors and paramedical staff to vacant posts across Sindh and make the non-functional Sindh Drugs Testing Labo­ratory operational in two months.

All the appointments should be made through the Sindh Public Service Comm­ission in two months.

Earlier, during the hearing of human rights complaints, amicus curiae Faisal Siddiqui informed the court that more than 100 children had died in Tharparkar since 2014, attributing the deaths to shortage of trained doctors and paramedics in the area.

He said there was up to 70 per cent shortage of medical staff in the province.

CJP Nisar asked Sindh Health Secretary Fazlullah Pechuho what steps had been taken to overcome the shortage of medical staff. The secretary replied that a committee had been set up in this regard.

The secretary said he had declared ‘child emergency’ in Shaheed Benazirabad, Tharparkar and Larkana districts.

Some residents of Nawab­shah district said their three children had died after being injected an expired measles vaccine at the Peoples University Hospital.

CJP Nisar asked the health secretary what action had been taken against those responsible (for the deaths) in the light of the summary prepared by doctors of the Aga Khan Hospital.

“At least parents should be informed about the actual cause of death of their children,” the chief justice told the health secretary, who remained silent.

A lawyer pointed out that the drugs testing laboratory in Sindh had remained non-functional for the last eight months.

The CJP asked the secretary why no steps had been taken to make the laboratory operational.

Mr Pechuho replied that maintenance work was under way and the laboratory would be made functional in six months.

The chief justice said six months’ time was too long and directed the secretary to make the laboratory functional in two months.

Published in Dawn, June 21st, 2018

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