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January 10, 2017



Sindh to put up better fight against polio this year: CM

Orders ensuring 100pc immunisation coverage,

purchasing ice-lined refrigerators for vaccines

Sindh’s chief minister said on Monday that polio had become a major challenge for his government, but “I have accepted this challenge and, Inshallah, would turn Sindh into a polio-free province soon.”

CM Murad Ali Shah presided over a high-profile meeting on the crippling disease at the New Secretariat. Among those who attended the meeting were Health Minister Dr Sikandar Mandhro, MNA Dr Azra Pechuho, Polio Coordinator Shahnaz Wazir Ali, Chief Secretary Rizwan Memon, provincial police chief AD Khowaja, Karachi police chief Mushtaq Maher, Health Secretary Fazal Pechuho, all divisional commissioners, and representatives of WHO and Unicef.

Briefing the chief executive, Expanded Programme on Immunisation (EPI) Project Director Fayaz Jatoi said that during 2016 some 19 polio cases were reported all over Pakistan, of them eight in Sindh, eight in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, two in FATA, one in Balochistan and none in Punjab. He added that out of eight cases of Sindh, seven were in the rural areas and one in Karachi.

CM Shah was also told that in 2015 there had been 54 polio cases across the country, of which 12 were in Sindh, 17 in KP, 16 in FATA, seven in Balochistan and two in Punjab.

On this the chief executive said that it was painful that Punjab, Balochistan, FATA and KP had improved, but Sindh had shown negligible progress. “This shows that there is some problem which we have to address.”

The meeting was informed that for the immunisation campaign launched in September and December last year, the target was to cover 2.2 million children in Karachi and 6.1 million in the rural areas of the province. In the city around 2.6 per cent children were unavailable at the time of immunisation, while parent of 1.7 per cent refused the vaccine.

On this Shah expressed displeasure, saying that it was the responsibility of the district administration to ensure 100 per cent coverage of the immunisation drive. “We all have to take ownership of the anti-polio drive, otherwise Sindh would lag behind, and I would not allow this to happen.”

The meeting was also told that the staffs of the health facilities under the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC) were reluctant to participate in anti-polio and other EPI activities. It was also pointed out that Landhi union council-1 and UC-2, Site UC-9 and Baldia UC-2 were at high risk because of lack of health facilities, while there were non-functional hospitals in Gadap UC-4, including the Janat Gul Hospital.

On this the chief executive directed the CS to talk to the KMC administration and direct its staff to ensure proper participation in the immunisation drive, otherwise action would be taken against them.

It was also disclosed that in Sujawal Hospital there was no district health officer (DHO) and that on Friday the DHOs were posted at Matiari and Jamshoro and some of the DHOs were near retirement. The CM was also told that the DHOs of Ghotki and Kamber had dual charges.

On this Shah directed the health minister to fill the vacant positions of DHOs on priority basis, adding that those who were retiring should be replaced on timely basis and the dual charges should be taken away from the DHOs to post genuine officers.

The chief executive noted that there were only 2,200 ice-lined refrigerators (ILRs), and due to prolonged power outages polio vaccines were becoming ineffective.

He directed the CS to procure solar ILRs. “I cannot wait for donor agencies to send us ILRs, because polio is a serious issue. Therefore, we should purchase the cooling system.”