BADIN: Alarmed by the ‘mysterious’ death of four children within a spate of a few days in this district, several teams of doctors rushed to identified coastal villages to investigate the cause as the bereaved families and other villagers kept insisting that they were diagnosed to be patients of diphtheria.

Some officials related to the local health facilities put the number of deaths at seven, but they were only able to confirm death of four children in the age group of five to 12.

According to a letter issued by the Badin district health officer (DHO) on Monday, the doctors forming the visiting teams were conducting a coordinated investigation under the supervision of the DHO. The focal person of the Expanded Programme on Immunisation (EPI) and local representative of the World Health Organisation are part of the investigation.

The doctors met the bereaved families and inquired from them about the symptoms of the disease, medical history, etc besides examining the lab test reports of the cases.

The letter stated that the doctors visited Seerani town and its adjoining villages including Buland Shah and Soomar Mallah from where the cases were reported.

It further stated that swab tests of the suspected [diphtheria] cases were also taken and a paediatrician had been posted at the local health facility to monitor the situation and handle the cases.

DHO Dr Liaquat Ali Qambrani speaking to this reporter said that he had sought assistance of federal health ministry in determining the actual disease and cause of the children’s death. He doubted that the recent confirmed or reported deaths were caused by diphtheria but at least one bereaved family stuck to their claim.

The death cases that have prompted the investigation were of nine-year-old Wazir Ali, 10-year-old Mazhar, 12-year-old Tahira, and another child of the same age group whose name could not be ascertained by this reporter immediately.

Published in Dawn, October 15th, 2019