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January 10, 2018

Murad stresses importance of winning national war on polio


January 10, 2018

Reiterating his commitment to eradicate polio from Sindh, the chief minister has directed all the divisional, district administration and health officials to work harder to ensure that their respective jurisdictions are clean and that vaccines are administered to all vulnerable children. “This is a national war, and we have to win it!”

Addressing a meeting of the provincial task force for polio eradication at the new Sindh Secretariat on Tuesday, CM Syed Murad Ali Shah said that only Pakistan and Afghanistan were on the list of polio-stricken countries, as the rest of the world had been declared free of the crippling disease.

“With our pragmatic measures we have achieved some better results, but the polio virus still exists in various parts of the province, including Karachi, for certain reasons, such as high refusal rate, migration from Balochistan and Afghanistan and inefficient garbage lifting services.”

Provincial Coordinator for Polio Eradication Fayaz Jatoi told the meeting that Karachi’s first polio case of 2017 had surfaced in August in Gulshan-e-Iqbal and the next in November in Gadap.

On this Murad directed the city commissioner to ensure that garbage lifting started in District East, particularly in the affected localities of Gulshan-e-Iqbal and Gadap. He also directed the municipal commissioner to draw up a plan with the local government secretary for the cleaning of the city’s major drains. “I want its implementation within 48 hours!”

The chief executive was told that in 2014 there were 30 polio cases across the province, including 23 in Karachi, and they reduced in the following years to 12 and seven in 2015, to eight and one in 2016 and to only two in the province last year, but both of them in Karachi.

Talking about environmental samples taken from different cities, Jatoi said Sukkur city showed a polio-positive report in September 2017, new Sukkur in April, Jacobabad in August, September and November, and Qambar Shahdadkot in August.

The areas of Karachi that showed polio-positive reports include Sohrab Goth, Machhar Colony, Khamiso Goth in Gadap Town, Chaora Nala, Rashid Minhas in Gulshan Town, Mohammad Khan Colony in Baldia Town, Bakhtawar village – the Landhi, Orangi Nullah area of SITE Town – and the Korangi Nullah area, added Jatoi.

He said 8.6 million children across Sindh, including 2.4 million in Karachi, were being administered polio vaccines, with the health teams being provided proper security cover. He also said the number of children who were missed during last month’s polio drive across the province was 175,004, including 129,756 in Karachi, adding that the missed children fell into two categories: those not present at home and those whose parents refused vaccines for them. Jatoi said the refusal rate in Karachi was 7.01 per cent, while it was 0.8 per cent in the rest of the province.

CM Murad expressed displeasure over polio-positive samples and directed all the relevant divisional commissioners to take necessary measures to clean their respective cities. He directed the chief secretary to record the performance of every assistant commissioner, deputy commissioner and commissioner as regards polio eradication in their respective annual confidential reports.

“This is a serious issue, and we all have to work in close coordination to save our children from this crippling disease,” he said, adding that he might introduce legislation to take action against refusal cases.

He also directed the commissioners to target water and sanitation interventions in high-risk union councils, cleaning of blocked sewage Nullahs, regular removal of garbage and rehabilitation of water supply.

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