The eradication of polio in Sindh has become a big challenge for which the Sindh government will form a new strategy to enhance the capacity of its anti-polio programme. The government will also...
The eradication of polio in Sindh has become a big challenge for which the Sindh government will form a new strategy to enhance the capacity of its anti-polio programme. The government will also register cases against those who do not allow children to be administered anti-polio vaccine.
Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah took these decisions on Wednesday as he chaired a meeting of the provincial task force for polio eradication at the CM House.
The CM said that Pakistan and Afghanistan were the only countries in the world where new polio cases were still emerging. “In Sindh, three cases have emerged during 2019 which is quite painful for me because last year we had only one case in Sindh and two cases in 2017,” he remarked and added “this shows that the number of polio cases are increasing instead of declining.”
Shah said the provincial government and its technical team must hold itself accountable for the increasing number of new polio cases. He added that it should be identified where the government had failed and why its efforts could not produce desired results.
The meeting was informed that so far in 2019, 24 new cases of polio had emerged in Pakistan, of which three were from Sindh, including one from Larkana and two from Karachi, three from Punjab, 12 from Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (KP) and six from tribal areas of KP.
The three children diagnosed with polio in Sindh in 2019 included Safia of Lyari, Abdul Nisar of Gulshan-e-Iqbal and Fiza of Larkana. It was told during the meeting that polio virus had been detected in environmental samples from 11 different areas of Karachi including Sohrab Goth, Machhar Colony, Khamiso Goth of Gadap, Chakro Nala, Rashid Minhas Road, Mohammad Khan Colony, Bakhtawar Village, Orangi Nullah, Korangi Nullah, Haji Mureed Goth and Hijrat Colony. Besides Karachi, polio virus has been detected in New Sukkur, Hyderabad and Dadu.
The CM expressed his displeasure at the discovery of polio virus from Dadu, saying that from 2015 to March 2019, Dadu remained cleared of polio virus. He directed the chief secretary to take disciplinary action against the deputy commissioners (DC) concerned and other officers of areas where polio virus had been detected. “What are our DCs, DHOs, polio eradication teams and other concerned local bodies officers doing in their areas?” he asked and decided to issue show-cause notices of DCs and other officers for their failure to control polio in their areas.
The meeting was told that polio vaccine was administered to 203,733 children in Karachi and a total of 251,806 children still missed the vaccine. This irked the CM who directed the polio teams to register cases against the parents who refused to let their children be administered anti-polio vaccine. He issued instructions to the inspector-general of police (IGP) to pass on his directives of registering cases against refusals to the police stations. The cases would be registered on the complaints of anti-polio teams of the respective areas.
It was also noted that in the divisions of Shaheed Benazirabad, Mirpurkhas, Larkana and Sukkur, no child missed the anti-polio vaccine. However, in Hyderabad division, 5,827 children could not be administered the vaccine. The CM directed the anti-polio teams to start an exclusive drive for the children who had missed the vaccine.
The CM directed the chief secretary to prepare a draft law for mandatory childhood polio vaccination. He also directed the finance secretary to release Rs412 million for polio workers. He said he would personally participate in the anti-polio drives for encouragement of the teams and activation of the departments concerned.
The meeting was attended by provincial ministers Dr Azra Pechuho and Saeed Ghani, Chief Secretary Mumtaz Shah, IGP Dr Kaleem Imam, Principal Secretary to CM Sajid Jamal Abro, the provincial secretaries of the home, education, health and finance departments, all the divisional commissioners, representative of federal government Dr Malik M Shafi, Tim Peterson of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, John Agbor of Unicef, Dr Abdi of WHO, Aziz Memon of Rotary International and others.