KARACHI: Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah on Tuesday reiterated his commitment to eradicate polio from the province, and issued necessary directives to all divisional and district administration and health officers to work hard to administer polio vaccines and keep their areas clean.
“This is a national war and we have to win it,” said the chief minister while presiding over a meeting of provincial task force for eradication of polio.
CM Sindh said that Pakistan and Afghanistan are the only countries still affected by polio while it has been eradicated from rest of the world. He said that the Sindh government has taken pragmatic measures and achieved better results, but the virus exists in various parts of the province due to several reasons including high refusal rate, migration of people from Balochistan and Afghanistan to Sindh and inefficient garbage collection services.
Provincial Coordinator for Polio Eradication Fayaz Jatoi briefed CM Sindh that the first polio case of 2017 was detected in August in UC-13 Gulshan-e-Iqbal and another case emerged in November in UC-4 Gadap, Karachi.
When interrupted by CM Sindh that both cases have been detected in District East, the coordinator replying in affirmative said that the causes are multiple such as most of the parents refuse to give polio vaccine to their children and migration from to Karachi from polio-stricken areas.
CM Sindh directed Commissioner Karachi to lift garbage in District East, particularly in UC-13 Gulshan and UC-4 Gadap. He also directed Municipal Commissioner to devise a plan to cleanse major drains of the city in coordination with Secretary Local Government.
The chief minister was informed that in 2014, there were 30 polio cases in the province, including 23 in Karachi. In 2015, the polio cases reduced to 12 with seven in the city, and in 2016 eight cases were detected including one in Karachi, while in 2017 only two cases were detected.
It may be noted that in 2014, there were 306 polio cases in Pakistan, of them 30 were in Sindh. In 2015, out of 54 polio cases of the country 12 were in Sindh, in 2016 out of 19 cases eight were in Sindh, and in 2017 out of eight polio cases only two were in Sindh.
Polio-positive samples found in Karachi, Sindh cities
Talking about environmental samples taken from different areas and cities for detecting polio virus, the provincial coordinator said that Sukkur showed positive reports in September 2017, New Sukkur in April, Jacobabad in August and September and then in November, while Qambar showed positive in August 2017.
The areas of Karachi which showed polio positive reports include Sohrab Goth, Machhar Colony, Khamiso Goth (Gadap Town), Chaora Nala, Rashid Minhas (Gulshan Town), Mohammad Khan Colony of Baldia Town, Bakhtawar village Landhi, Orangi, and the drain areas of SITE Town and Korangi.
Mr Jatoi said that polio teams with proper security administer anti-police vaccine to the children all over Sindh. There are 8.6 million children all over Sindh including 2.4 million in Karachi who are being given polio vaccine.
He further said that 175,004 children including 129,756 in Karachi missed having polio vaccine in December 2017. The missed children include those who were not present at their homes, and those whose parents refused to administer polio vaccine. In Karachi, the refusal rate remained 7.01 percent while in rest of Sindh it was 0.8 percent .
The chief minister expressed his displeasure on polio-positive environmental samples and directed all concerned divisional commissioners to take necessary measures to clean their respective cities. He directed chief secretary to record performance in terms of polio eradication, saying that this is a serious issue and requires close coordination to save children from the crippling disease.
He added that the provincial government may introduce legislation against the refusal of polio vaccine.
CM Sindh also directed the commissioners to target water and sanitation interventions in high risk union councils, cleaning of blocked sewage drains, regular removal of garbage and rehabilitation of water supply.