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Low health budget puts question mark on priorities

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KARACHI:

Health facilities being choked due to an influx of monsoon related illnesses has put the spotlight on Sindh government’s district wise budgetary allocations towards health which might not be enough to have a significant impact.

If the budget presented in the last fiscal year is used to gauge health spending, a total of Rs 11.9 million was assigned to the Central District, as per documents available with the Express Tribune, which has a population of nearly 3.2 million people – translating into a Rs 3.76 per person allocation.

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Various officials in the district’s 8 health centres were of the view that the measly budget allocation is a disservice to people. With one official, who commented on the situation under the condition of anonymity, saying, “the provincial government forces people towards private hospitals by giving us mere pennies to function with.”

Mujahid Aslam, who was visiting his local health care centre, concurring with the experts views, told the Express Tribune that not only were the facilities shabby but there were no medicines at their pharmacies either. “Gone are the days when we could get free medicines, now it is all dependent on one’s luck.” Another patient, Iqtadar Sheraz, whilst lamenting the loss of free medicines, added on to Aslam’s views stating that clearly good healthcare was not the provincial government’s priority. While some were upset with the lack of medication, others like Seema, who was visiting for a gynaecological disease, said that the centres lacked a bit of everything.

“The mother health care centre is devoid of trained staff and necessary equipment. How will they ensure the child and mother’s health is looked after?” she questioned. Seema further said that even if the ultrasound facilities could be ignored, this was not the first time she had been let down by the district healthcare centres. “I faced similar problems when I was trying to get dental treatment. There is no facility whatsoever for dental issues.” District Health Officer, Dr Muzaffar Odho, when asked about the difficulties that residents were facing, denied that free medicine provision was being impacted in any way.

“Medication is being provided at all district healthcare facilities uninterrupted and free of cost.” However, Dr Odho acknowledged that a lot more could be done. “Our budget allocations have been low and it is hard to operate with such financial constraints.” When asked what in particular was being affected, Dr Odho replied that there was no blood transfusion facility in the district and similarly construction of new centres was impacted as well.

“We are trying to improve facilities like the gynaecological facilities but it would help if the per person budget was increased.” The Express Tribune contacted the Provincial Health Minister, Dr Azra Fazal Pechuho, several times to inquire when the district’s budgetary requirements would be met so that resident’s misery could be reduced but did not hear back from her.

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Published in The Express Tribune, August 2nd, 2022.



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Sindh

Chinese man rescued at sea fell off merchant ship

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KARACHI:

A Chinese seafarer, Zuo Xiang Wei, rescued on Wednesday had fallen off a Chinese merchant ship near the Karachi port, the Pakistan Maritime Security Agency (PMSA) said on Thursday.

According to a PMSA spokesperson, Zuo Xiang Wei, was sighted by local fishermen swiming near Phitti Creek.

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Al Madina launch captain Abdullah and his team of fishermen were out for a catch from the Ibrahim Hyderi Jetty when they found a Chinese citizen swimming near Bundal Island. According to the Fisherfolk Forum spokesperson Kamal Shah, Abdullah directed the vessel towards the Chinese national and hauled him aboard.

The launch crew then sent a distress call to the PMSA base Sadaqat, which responded in time.

AS per PSMA the Chinese sailor was safely recovered in coordination with a local fishermen. Initially, first aid was given to him at the PMSA base at Ibrahim Hydri. Later he was transferred to the PMSA headquarters for a detailed medical checkup.

Also read: Two siblings drown in Pindigheb pond

It was later confirmed that Zuo Xiang Wei had fallen off a merchant vessel, identified as Xin Shang Hai (IMO 9307231) of the Cosco Shipping on August 10, 2022 in near approaches to Karachi harbour.

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The coordinated efforts of Pakistani fishermen and PMSA ensured the rescue of the Chinese national which was highly appreciated by the Consulate General of China in Karachi.

According to the spokesperson, timely response by its assets is a clear manifestation of the PMSA resolve that it remains committed to safety of lives at sea.



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ECP gets 38 nominations for NA by-polls

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The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has received 38 nomination papers for by-elections on three National Assembly seats in Karachi, including one submitted by Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman and former prime minister Imran Khan.

According to details, ECP has started the process of receiving nomination papers for three vacant National Assembly seats NA-237 Malir, NA-239 Korangi and NA-246 Lyari. No candidate submitted a nomination form on the first day. The nomination form for PTI chairman has been obtained for NA-246 Lyari seat, but so far no forms have been submitted under his name in other constituencies.

A total of eight nomination forms have been taken for the Lyari NA seat, while 18 nomination forms were received for NA-237 Malir seat and 12 for NA-239 Korangi seat. The nomination papers have been submitted by members of various political parties as well as independent candidates.

According to the ECP schedule, nomination papers can be submitted till August 13. The provisional list of candidates will be released by ECP on August 14. The nomination papers will be scrutinised till August 17, and the last date for appeal against the decisions of the returning officers is August 20.

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The decisions of the Appellate Tribunal will be made by August 25. Revised lists will be released on August 26. Candidates will be able to decide to withdraw their candidatures till August 27. Election symbols will be allotted on August 29 and polling will be held on September 25 for all the vacant NA seats.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 11th, 2022.

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Sindh

Man’s body discovered four days after death

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KARACHI:

In another case of rising indifference towards neighbours, people found out that the man living next door has died only after the stench made it impossible to breathe.

Nadeem Ahmed, 55, had died in bed at his home in the densely populated Awami Colony area of Gabol Goth. His body was lying there for days till the foul smell made the neighbours realize that something is wrong.

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On receiving the information, a squad from Awami Colony police station arrived with a volunteer service ambulance to shift the remains to Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre for legal proceedings.

According to the police, the cause of death could not be immediately determined. The body was shifted to the hospital for post-mortem, and the cause of death will be determined only after the issuance of the post-mortem report.

 

Published in The Express Tribune, August 11th, 2022.



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