Media hype on rickshaw childbirth – by Dr Muhammad Awais Khalil

In the last few days, we have witnessed an extraordinary media hype against President Zardari because of a childbirth in an auto-rickshaw in Quetta. Apparently it seems that a traffic mismanagement during President Zardari’s visit to Quetta lead to this isolated incident.

The right wing media has, however, used this opportunity for Zardari bashing as usual. This incident has been reported as an ultimate evidence of lack of governance of the PPP’s government, and so on.

To put things in perspective, here are some statistics from a developed country, i.e. UK. Here is an an article in Daily Mail which tell us how many babies are born out of maternity wards. Latest figures show that over the past two years there were at least:

  • 63 births in ambulances and 608 in transit to hospitals;
  • 117 births in A&E departments, four in minor injury units and two in medical assessment areas;
  • 115 births on other hospital wards and 36 in other unspecified areas including corridors;
  • 399 in parts of maternity units other than labour beds, including postnatal and antenatal wards and reception areas.

Source: Daily Mail, UK

These statistics suggest that its not abnormal to have baby born out of hospital but Geo TV (Kamran Khan) and Jang group want to bash Zardari at any cost, even at the cost of objectivity and truth.

Our fellow bloggers at Pakistan Media Watch have written an excellent article on this topic, which is being reproduced below:

I have been hesitant to say anything about the recent incident of the unfortunate mother who gave birth in an autorickshaw in Quetta, but the way that this has been covered by the media needs a response. The incident, as I’m sure you know, occurred when roads were blocked for a Presidential visit.

It was an unfortunate circumstance, and one that deserves discussion about how to prevent it in the future. But instead of talking about the obvious need to expand the availability of medial care, to improve access to doctors in cities and villages, to develop emergency protocols for medical emergencies — the media has focused its blame on the President. You can almost see the media shaking their heads and saying to each other in their comfortable drawing rooms, “Who does Zardari think he is? President!?!

The most ridiculous comment came from The News editorial on Monday in which the editorialists wrote:

    “Roads are blocked across the country every day as anybody imagining themselves to be sufficiently important from the president down demand that they be shown ‘protocol’ and the way cleared before them.”

Yes, obviously there are too many self-appointed VVIP’s in this country who expect to be treated like the President. But the President is the President. Obviously having these protocols to block roads for Presidential travel is an inconvenience. But it is not a protocol that was created out of some self-importance or ego. How many of our leaders have to be assassinated before we realize that we have to clear roads to protect their safety? What countries do not allow for such protocols when national leaders are traveling?

It is unfortunate because the vast majority of the media coverage has been dedicated to clucking of tongues and reporting of the President apologizing instead of looking at ways to improve transportation, access to emergency services, and medical care. The media could have served a useful role in facilitating a discussion of how to improve these things in the country. Instead, they chose to once again take the opportunity for petty political attacks. Very disappointing.



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