The death of five infants in Larkana, primarily due to a lack of oxygen supply, is a terrible tragedy. However, for Sindh this is another incident in a line of healthcare related mishaps. This comes within weeks of the Tharparkar fiasco, where provincial healthcare facilities and relevant politicians were heavily criticised for letting over 120 people die, most of them children. As well as further eroding the trust of the people in the government’s capabilities and motivations, it also shows that the deaths in Tharparkar cannot be written off as just the result of extreme weather conditions and drought, as the government has been trying to do. The prime cause remains the shambolic healthcare system.

Despite the PPP’s much bandied about love for the poor and defenceless, the realm where they need the state the most – healthcare – is where they are most venerable. Outside Karachi, the track record of healthcare, and other public services like education, is abysmal. Rural Sindh is pockmarked with empty buildings, which have been inaugurated with much pomp as new clinics, dispensaries and hospitals, but have yet to see a case of medicine or even proper staff. In Larkana, the staff of the hospital reports that a budget had been allotted to them by the provincial government of Sindh but the bill had not been officially passed, and therefore they lack proper supplies. The Sindh government has allocated Rs 43.58bn to health, a 20% increase over last year’s budget, but precious little of this reaches the grass-roots level. If is unfortunate that the malaise of nepotism and corruption are spreading to even the healthcare systems, which have a direct impact on the lives of the people. The Sindh government recently passed five bills related to healthcare; all of them relating to reorganisation and creation of regulatory and monitoring bodies. Yet not a single one is aimed at monitoring transparent distribution of funds; they are instead hoping to regulate standards for nurses, midwives and medical practitioners. The PPP has been rooted out from all provinces but Sindh; their apathy towards their own people shows why that is.