THARPARKAR: Despite tall claims made by the Sindh government to provide basic healthcare in theThar Desert, the deaths of children that started in 2013 have not come to an end. According to official data, since January 113 children have died in one hospital of Mithi city alone. During the last four years, 2250 children died owing to malnutrition and other diseases inTharparkar and the toll has risen. The Sindh Health Department admits that since June 2013, 2363 children died in the Thar Desert due to malnourishment related diseases; however, local media has reported the number to be much higher. Also these deaths are reported in only one public sector hospital, which is Civil Hospital Mithi. The impendent estimations suggest that the actual number is four times higher than the official data. Tharparkar district is spread over 22000 square kilometers with 23000 villages and seven subdivisions – locally known as talukas. There is only one public sector hospital at Mithi and three taluka hospitals in Diplo, Chachro and Nagarparkar and the rest of the three talukasdo not have any hospital facility. 210 dispensaries have been established to provide health facilities for inhabitants but out of those, 170 dispensaries have not sanctioned SNE or the budget. The Health Department claims to run the 176 dispensaries withstand Rs. 40 million annual budget. However, 36 dispensaries are non-functional which is why Thari people face difficulties in getting access to proper health facilities. There are only 17 ambulances for the 2.265 million population residing in 2300 villages in the desert. Out of 17 ambulances, there are 8ambulances at Mithi hospital, 3 ambulances at Diplo hospital, 3 ambulances at Chachro hospital, 2 ambulances at Nagarparkar and 2 ambulances are available at rural health units of Islamkot and Dahlitaluka. However, only three ambulances are (4×4) four wheels and the rest are two wheel vehicles, which cause much difficulty in carrying the patients from remote areas of the. desert region. 70% of the population of Thar live in far-flung villages. 297 posts of doctors of grade 17 to 20 are lying vacant in entire hospitals of Tharparkar. There is an acute need to fulfill the vacant posts of doctors in hospitals of Tharparkar to provide proper health facilities. The Sindh government has fired 25 – including 5 female doctors – after their contracts ended on March 28, 2017 while contracts of 31 were extended for the next two years. Those fired; Dr Reeta, Dr Pushpa, Dr Ashok, Dr Mukesh, Dr Veena, Dr Joti Mala Dr Leela, Dr Ashok and others, talking to the local journalists lamented that they were dismissed from their services despite the fact that they were performing their duties regularly at their respective health units. The doctors were regretful that they had left their lucrative jobs in Karachi and Hyderabad and had chosen to serve in the desert region when children were dying in their hundreds some two years back. Hospital Authorities told Daily Times that only some children had died of severe malnutrition so far in Tharparkar while others died of birth asphyxia, sever syndrome and other diseases. To avoid any culpability, subordinates have been directed by District Health Administration not to share the details of deaths with local media because District Health Officer Tharparkar is of the opinion that media were misreporting the deaths of infants in Thar.