Sindh govt fails to establish Thalassemia centers

KARACHI: Sindh Health Department has failed to keep its promise of setting up Thalassemia Treatment Centers in the province for treatment of thalassemia suffering children at government level despite lapse of over two years.

Ex-minister for health Sindh Jam Mehtab Hussain Dahar had announced establishment of 28 Thalassemia Treatment Centers across the province two years ago to provide diagnostic and treatment facilities to children living with the blood disorder, known as thalassemia.

Unfortunately, high-ups of health department Sindh has failed to set up these centers despite lapse of over two years as government has not allocated funds for these thalassemia centers as yet.

Earlier, a similar type of project had also been announced by the former health minister of Sindh, Dr Sagheer Ahmed, who had pledged to establish Thalassemia Centers in seven major government hospitals of the province with a cost of Rs174.116 million in 2011.

Thalassemia centers were planned in the Civil Hospital Karachi, Lyari General Hospital, Sindh Government Hospital Liaquatabad, Civil Hospital Mirpurkhas, Peoples Medical College Hospital Nawabshah, Ghulam Mohammad Mehar Medical College Hospital Sukkur and Chandka Medical College Hospital Larkana.

However, only three such centers could be established to date, and out of them only one is fully functional.

The provincial government has established a Thalassemia Day Care Centre, under a public-private partnership, at Civil Hospital Karachi (CHK) in 2011, which is run by Patients’ Welfare Association (PWA). Nevertheless, the Thalassemia centres in Lyari General Hospital and Sindh Government Hospital Liaquatabad are still not operational.

There are no facilities available for thalassemia patients in major hospitals of Karachi like the Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Center (JPMC), Abbasi Shaheed Hospital (ASH) and the National Institute of Child Health (NICH).

Around 8,000 babies are born with thalassemia disease annually in Pakistan while 0.1 million children are living with this genetic blood disorder in the country.

The non-governmental organisations are carrying 90 percent burden of thalassemia patients in Sindh province while Sindh government has failed establish thalassemia centres in the province.

Secretary Health Sindh Dr Fazlullah Pechuho was not available for comments.