• Health minister paints bleak picture of healthcare in flood-hit areas
• Sindh govt criticised for not including opposition in relief activities

KARACHI: The Sindh Assembly was on Wednesday informed that the population of stray dogs had increased alarmingly across the province and there was an urgent need to take action to contain the rising dog-bite cases.

Speaking on the adjournment motion on devastation caused by unprecedented floods in the province, Health Minister Dr Azra Pechuho said that over 200,000 dog-bite cases had been reported in the province during the first 10 months of the current year.

“Frankly speaking, it has become an issue and the local government department will have to take immediate action to curb it,” she added.

The health minister said that there were 783 dog-bite cases among the flood-affected people, who were duly given anti-rabies treatment.

She said that over 93,000 doses of anti-rabies vaccine and 22,500 anti-snake vaccine were available with the health department.

Terming the floods in the province as the biggest challenge after Covid-19 pandemic, she said the floodwater had been drained out from many areas but there were areas still submerged.

She said that the health department had established over 17,000 mobile medical camps and 11,870 fixed camps in the province to cater to flood-hit people.

Giving the figures of flood-affected patients, she said over 10,000 people had skin diseases, over 11,000 chest diseases, over 900,000 patients of diarrhoea, over 500,000 of malaria patients and more than 1,000 dengue patients were treated in the government health facilities.

She added that the number of patients appeared more than the actual number of patients as the figures were collated in view of the visits of the patients.

“We have also detected 60 patients of tuberculosis. We did not let shortage of medicines in the medical camps,” she said.

She said that the 10,000 pregnant women were also provided due medical facilities in the camps.

Dr Pechehu said that over 7,000 health facilities were damaged in the floods. “Over 100 healthcare facilities were completely destroyed,” she said.

Over 13,000 schools destroyed in floods

Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaaf’s Rabia Azfar Nizami focused on the education sector and said that 29,278 out of total 49,446 schools were damaged in the floods.

She said that around 13,000 schools had been completely destroyed.

“These schools were damaged as the provincial government did not conduct structural assessment of the buildings in the last 10 years,” she added.

Besides, she said relief camps had been established in over 2,500 school buildings.

She said that around 6.9 million children were already out of school and 50 per cent more children would be dropped out due to the damaged school.

The PTI MPA, who always came up with authentic facts and figures of education sector in her speeches on the floor, said that the province had already been a victim of “learning poverty” and now it would face learning deprivation.

“Only private education system will thrive and what the provincial government is doing with this sector would leave children of poor with no option but to become labour,” she lamented.

She said the chief minister and the education minister must tell the house as to what they had planned to renovate and reconstruct the damaged schools and to bring the dropout children in the ambit of education.

Ms Nizami said that as per provincial government three years would be required to restore the school in the province. “Does it mean our children will remain out of schools for the next three years,” she asked.

Tehreek Labbaik Paksitan’s parliamentary party leader Mufti Muhammad Qasim Fakhri asked as to why the provincial assembly was not summoned for the past three months to have a discussion on the floods.

“The Sindh Assembly was locked for three months after the floods in Sindh. If government representatives were busy in their respective constituencies, why were the people staging protests,” he asked.

Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan’s Mohammad Hussain said that the effects of global warming were coming to the fore in the whole world, but the authorities in Pakistan not taking measures in tackle it. “There are no measures to deal with natural disasters,” he said.

He also criticised the provincial government for not including opposition lawmakers in the relief committees.

Agriculture Minister Ismail Rahu said that floods and rains had broken all records but the provincial government done it best to face the natural disaster.

Arif Mustafa Jatoi of the Grand Democratic Alliance said that Provincial Disaster Management Authority had issued many warnings of thunderstorms and heavy rains but the provincial government did not pay heed to these warnings.

He said that as many tents as claimed by the chief minister might not be in the whole of Pakistan.

PPP’s Syed Zulfikar Shah, Shabbir Bijarani, MQM-P’s Ali Khurshidi and Rabia Khatoon and GDA’s Waryam Faqeer also spoke on the adjournment motion.

Speaker Agha Siraj Durrani adjourned the sitting to meet on Thursday (today) when more lawmakers would participate in the discussion on flood situation.

Published in Dawn, December 8th, 2022

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