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January 12, 2020

CM Murad Ali Shah vows to rid Sindh of polio in 2020 as another child crippled


January 12, 2020

A 34-month-old male child from the Gujjo union council in Thatta district’s Mirpur Sakro tehsil has been crippled by the polio virus, polio eradication initiative officials said on Saturday, adding that the child’s upper and lower limbs have been affected by the disease.

“The Emergency Operations Centre [EOC] for Polio in Sindh has confirmed one new polio case for the year 2019 from Mirpur Sakro in Thatta district. This takes the previous year’s tally of Sindh to 25 and of Pakistan to 135,” said a spokesman for the EOC Sindh.

The 34-month-old male child has been affected by polio with weakness in the upper and lower limbs on the left side, and the date of the onset was December 26, 2019, said the official.

Citing the parents of the crippled child, he said the minor had been administered seven doses of the oral polio vaccine, while three routine doses plus inactivated polio vaccine had been verified by card. An investigation is under way to verify these claims, he added.

The EOC official deplored the fact that the long gap in door-to-door campaigns during 2019 had created a large pool of vulnerable children. “However, we have a golden opportunity to turn this around with regular campaigns. National and provincial EOCs have started to fight back to get polio eradication on track and reverse this trend.”

He added: “The current risk to our children is very real, and while it is our job to deliver these vaccines on the doorstep, caregivers must also step up and protect their children through vaccinations. We urge parents to ensure immunisation of their children, both in routine as well as in the special campaigns planned by the programme during the next few months.”

Meanwhile, Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah said that the emergence of 25 cases in the province in 2019 was quite painful for him, but efforts should be made to make 2020 a safe year by eradicating polio from the province with effective and coordinated efforts.

“Otherwise our future generations, if allowed to suffer from the crippling disease, would not forgive us”, he said while presiding over a meeting of the Provincial Task Force on Polio Eradication at the CM House.

The chief executive was told that during the previous year, 134 cases of polio emerged all over Pakistan, of them 24 in Sindh, 11 in Balochistan, eight in Punjab and 91 in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Out of the 24 cases in Sindh, six were detected in Karachi and 11 in other divisions.

The CM said that most of the polio cases have links with Karachi, so the health department and its other relevant wings have to focus on Karachi by segregating the areas with the intention that their environmental samples can be made negative.

It may be noted here that Gadap Town, Gulshan Town, Baldia Town, SITE Town, Korangi, Liaquat Town and Saddar Town have been positive throughout 2019, as far as environmental samples are concerned. Similarly, Sukkur, Jacobabad, Hyderabad, Dadu and Kambar-Shahdadkot have also remained positive.

Polio vaccine coverage

EOC Incharge Rehan Baloch told the CM that for administering polio vaccine to children, the target was set at 9,076,523, including 2,293,687 for Karachi, 2,160,552 for Hyderabad, 1,514,246 for Larkana, 785,475 for Mirpurkhas, 1,093,139 for Shaheed Benazirabad and 1,229,424 for Sukkur.

With special efforts, the coverage remained 100 per cent all over the province, he said, adding that 82.1 per cent missed children were also covered and still 295,704 children were missed. The chief executive directed the EOC incharge to ensure that not a single child remains without polio vaccine. He directed him to send special teams to the houses of the unavailable children at night so that they could be covered.

The CM was told that 95 per cent coverage has been achieved in the seven-day campaign held in December 2019 in Karachi and 100 per cent in other divisions of the province.

Shah directed the EOC official to coordinate with all the deputy commissioners via video link so that the coverage could be made more effective.

The CM also directed all the commissioners and deputy commissioners to furnish him with reports on the performances of all their taluka and tehsil level polio teams.

He directed the local government minister to make the local bodies more effective in terms of cleanliness work so that the polio virus could be controlled. He issued similar directives to the deputy commissioners to keep their cities and water bodies neat and clean.

The CM also directed the EOC to improve case response in 2020. He added that the in rural areas of the province, 782 union councils, where environmental samples have been found positive, must be focused.

The meeting was attended by provincial ministers Dr Azra Pechuho and Nasir Shah, CM’s Principal Secretary Sajid Jamal Abro, Karachi Commissioner Iftikhar Shallwani, LG Secretary Roshan Shaikh, Health Secretary Zahid Abbasi, all deputy commissioners of the city, all commissioners and deputy commissioners of other divisions and districts.