Three Grade-9 students recently died after facing an accident and failing to get proper medical care in time. All three of the children died while they were being rushed to hospitals in Aliabad Hunza and Gilgit, because sub-division Gojal, where the tragic road accident took place, is deprived of the required health facilities.
Year after year, dozens of lives are lost because people cannot reach health facilities. And if they reach the facilities in Aliabad, or even in Gilgit, the lack of expertise and equipment often ends in disappointment.
The number of accidents on the Karakoram Highway has skyrocketed in recent days with the increase in tourism, but the health facilities have not improved a notch. A limited number of poorly equipped ambulances are available for a vast piece of treacherous land stretching hundreds of mountain-miles. Vast majority of the health facilities are understaffed. Doctors and technicians hired to offer services in Hunza are working elsewhere, refusing to serve the district, as the local leadership acts as a silent spectator.
Every other week, federal ministers, top officials, military, and civil bureaucrats, visit Gojal Valley and post videos and photographs of dancing and posing in exotic local dresses, portraying the land as an exotic thing. What they fail to notice, and highlight, or address, is the plight of the locals who are losing their lives and limbs every now and then due to the government’s inability to provide a robust health system.
While the federal and GB government are trumpeting CPEC as a game-changer, the fate of people living on both sides of the Karakoram Highway, the backbone of CPEC, remains stagnant.
This is not just true for Hunza, but all parts of Gilgit-Baltistan. The locals yearn for attention of the government, demanding addressing of very basic issues, but are often rebuked, offered lip-services, or coerced into silence.
The GB government in its recently announced development package completely ignored Hunza’s health sector, among other sector. This, while the hospitals in Aliabad, Karimabad, Gulmit and Sost remain under-staffed and ill-equipped, unable to save lives.
Will the three grief-stricken mothers’ wailings reach the hearts of the decision-makers and stir some emotions? Will the government find it in its heart to pay attention to the health woes of Hunza?