Islamabad: Over 100 newborn babies and several women have died in Pakistan's drought-hit southern Sindh province this month of water-borne and viral diseases, according to health officials. The water-borne diseases and malnutrition teamed up with the cold weather caused the children to lose their lives in different areas of the Tharparkar district.

Although the Sindh government has denied the high number of casualties, the doctors have said that two women and eight children died yesterday of water-borne and viral diseases. "There has been an outbreak of water borne and viral diseases in the area and infants and children have died due to malnutrition and the extreme cold weather," Arjun Kumar, an health officer in Tharparkar district said.

Around 121 infants and in some cases their mothers have died in January alone in Tharparkar district. Yesterday, an infant died in Bhadaar Halepoto village while two deaths were reported in Khensar and Gogasar village.

Two other newborn babies died in Mithi while another died in Mubarak Rind village. According to official data, about 70 per cent government dispensaries in the desert region are either partly functional or without having an 'approved schedule of new establishments (SNEs)'.

However, the deputy district health officer of Tharparkar, Jai Parkas said that so far only 40 minors have lost their lives due to such diseases. According to him 35 children died in Civil Hospital Mithi, three in RHC Chhachhro and two in RHC Nagarparkar town. The officer claimed that at least 162 children suffering from pneumonia and other diseases were under treatment in Mithi and other hospitals of the district.

The Sindh government has come under fire for the recurring deaths of infants in the district but officials and ministers have claimed that the figures are not correct and more funds have been allocated for health care in the area.