KARACHI: Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah on Thursday said that he was committed to eradicate polio from the province, but it was a national issue requiring action from all provincial government to combat the looming threat.
This chief minister, while presiding over a meeting on Provincial Task Force Meeting for Polio Eradication, said that special attention was given to polio drives by providing strict security to teams and keeping them in touch.
The meeting was also attended by Aseefa Bhutto Zardari, Mayor Karachi Waseem Akhtar, and representatives of federal government, Unicef and WHO.
The chief minister said that he wants to make Sindh free of polio. He expressed satisfaction over a recent report that no polio case has been reported anywhere in Sindh during the present five months of 2017.
Coordinator Emergency Operation Center for Polio Fayaz Jatio briefing the meeting said only two polio cases have been reported during 2017 in Pakistan, one in Gilgit-Baltistan and Punjab each.
He added that thirty polio cases had emerged in Sindh in 2014, which had dropped to twelve in 2015. This further reduced to eight in 2016 and there were zero cases this year. Aseefa Bhutto urged the polio team to maintain zero figure and work hard to eradicate the virus.
Mr. Jatoi said that Karachi was previously vulnerable and samples collected from different areas such as Machhar Colony, Sohrab Goth and Gadap had polio virus, but the results are now negative. However, there is indication of the virus in areas of lower and northern Sindh and necessary measures have been taken to control the situation.
He informed that polio coverage Karachi is around ninety percent but still 80,000 children are left because of two reasons – refusal or absence in their houses. CM Sindh directed to convince parents who refuse to give polio drops to their children and try to reach homes of those who are not present at the time of the polio drive.
He instructed Minister Health Dr Sikandar Mandhro to post District Health Officers (DHO) at vacant posts, and not allow these positions on additional charge for long as they are tasked with polio work.
It was pointed out that most districts of northern Sindh have shown good performance to control the situation, while the areas of lower Sindh have made operational improvements since the first case was detected in September.
The meeting was told that the proportion of female workers has increased steadily but still it remains a challenge. However, special mobile teams have been introduced in coastal belt.
CM Sindh directed to transfer management control of Expanded Programme on Immunization (EPI) to PPHI in district Tharpakar, Badin, Sujawal, Kashmore, Kambar, Sanghar and Sukkur. He also issued directives for creation of District Surveillance Coordinator (DSCs)/Field Surveillance medical officers.
National Coordinator of Pakistan’s progress towards zero polio said that the environmental surveillance results of last 52 weeks show persistence of polio virus in Karachi and Quetta.
CM Sindh urged him to further strengthen collaboration of federal government with Afghanistan, and also called for high quality of surveillance performance across Pakistan. It was unanimously decided that further close coordination may be developed for receiving sustainable positive results by making polio zero in Sindh.