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Children living in slums face grave threats to health 

09 Januarie 2011 11:30:16 nm

Children living in slums face grave threats to health

Sohail Rashid

The non-availability of basic health facilities, coupled with lack of awareness, is posing a grave threat to the health of children living in the capital’s slum areas. Extreme weather conditions are further exacerbating the threat.

The residents of these slum areas obviously do not have the resources to pay attention to the health of their children, who remain exposed to the cold for a better part of the day and the entire night. Most of these children do not even have shoes to wear.

A visit to these areas brings a person eye-to-eye with children roaming about in a single garment, or a top or lower. Many of them have nothing to cover their bodies. Resultantly, pneumonia, whooping and chronic coughs, diseases of the respiratory tract, and other life-threatening illnesses are common among children living in the slums of sectors I-10 and I-11.

The parents of these children cannot afford proper treatment from a doctor. Whenever a child falls sick, they simply buy a cough syrup or tablets from a medical store and administer these to the child without knowing the exact nature of their ailment.

“I have syrups for cough and fever at home. Whenever my child coughs or suffers from fever, I administer a dose of these syrups to him,” Shabbir Khan, a resident of a slum in Sector I-11, said when asked by INFN how he takes care of his kids in harsh weather conditions.

Shaukat Ali, another resident of the slum, said, even though his children often remain sick during winter, he cannot afford to show them to a doctor. He lives in a house that has no main door; there is only a piece of cloth hanging in place of a wooden door. This cloth offers no protecting from the cold breeze.

“Children living in slums are good candidates of chest infection and pneumonia due to lack of protection and medical facilities. These diseases can be life-threatening for children who remain exposed to cold,” commented Dr. Zahid Minhas, a general physician at Holy Family Hospital. He urged the government to build dispensaries or small hospitals in such localities for the medical care of these people. “A free medical camp may provide some timely relief but it is not a solution to the problem. What these people need is a proper hospital,” he added.

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