KARACHI: The Sindh Assembly was informed on Wednesday that nearly half of children under five had stunted growth and 41 per cent children were underweight, mainly due to malnutrition, across the province.

While furnishing a statement and replies to the lawmakers’ written and verbal queries during the Question Hour session in the house, Health Minister Azra Fazal Pechuho said the provincial government was taking certain measures for stabilising nutrition in children.

Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf member Sidra Imran had asked the minister to inform the house about the estimated percentage of malnutrition in children under the age of five and those between 10 and 18 in the province.

Quoting figures from the National Nutrition Survey-2018, the health minister said that 45.5pc children under five were stunted, 41.3pc were underweight and 23.3pc children were wasted in Sindh.

She further said that 16.6pc girls and 30.6pc boys aged between 10 and 19 were underweight, while 61.2pc adolescent girls and 45.3pc women of reproductive age were anaemic.

In reply to another question by Ms Imran, the health minister said 156 blood banks were registered in the province. She said 41 unregistered blood banks were closed down as they did not meet the requirements.

Dr Pechuho said that four Regional Blood Centres had been established in Jamshoro, Sukkur, Nawabshah and Karachi.

Answering a question asked by Jamaat-i-Islami member Abdul Rasheed, she said Rs23.46 million was earmarked for the purchase of medicines for the Lyari General Hospital and Rs5.1m was spent in six months.

In reply to another question by Mr Rasheed, the minister said that there were five ambulances available at the Lyari General Hospital.

Answering a question by Khwaja Izharul Hasan, she said 160 provincial government health facilities were managed by five non-governmental organisations under public-private partnership.

Answering a verbal question by PTI member Dr Imran Shah, the minister said that 1,300 doses of anti-rabies medicine were available with the provincial health department and all the medical superintendents of provincial hospitals had been asked to make requisition if the medicine was required there.

Published in Dawn, November 14th, 2019