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July 12, 2020

CM Murad Ali Shah orders special anti-polio campaign in 23 UCs of Central, West districts


July 12, 2020

Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah directed the provincial health department on Saturday to launch a special anti-polio drive in 23 union councils (UCs) of District Central and District West on July 20 for vaccination of 26,742 children in the province.

He also asked the Polio Eradication Initiative (PEI) to hold regular vaccination drives from August till December 2020 on a monthly basis.

Presiding over a meeting of the provincial task force on polio eradication, the CM directed the health department to overcome human resources shortage on war footing and asked the Sindh inspector general of police (IGP) and security forces to ensure foolproof security during the vaccination drives.

He also directed the commissioners and deputy commissioners in the province to play their due role for polio eradication. He reaffirmed the Sindh government’s resolve to tackle polio as the top most agenda among its priorities.

The meeting was attended by Sindh Health Minister Dr Azra Fazal Pechuho, Information Minister Syed Nasir Hussain Shah, Chief Secretary Mumtaz Shah, IGP Mushtaq Mahar, Principal Secretary to the CM Sajid Jamal Abro, Dr Shaukat Chandio of Unicef, Dr Aslif Demissie of the World Health Organisation (WHO), Provincial Coordinator Emergency Operation Centre (EOC) Fayaz Abbasi, Shahnaz Wazire Ali, Aziz Memon of the Rotary International and others.

EOC Coordinator Fayaz Abbasi said there had so far been 58 new cases of polio in the country during 2020, of which 20 were from Sindh, 21 from Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, 14 from Balochistan and three from Punjab. The most recent case in Sindh was reported on July 9.

The CM was told that 16 vaccine-derived polio virus 2 (VDPV2) were isolated from 10 environmental sites in Sindh. In Karachi, 15 VDPV2 were isolated from nine sites, including Site Town, Gadap Town, Bakhtawar village, Hijrat Colony and other areas.

Anti-polio campaign

The CM was told that the COVID-19 had negatively impacted the Polio Eradication Initiative in Pakistan as all kinds of anti-polio campaigns had stopped since March 2020.

It was pointed out that an average of 700,000 children under five years could be vaccinated monthly. The meeting decided to screen polio workers for COVID-19 symptoms to reduce risk to households and ask all the health workers to use masks and sanitisers, and ensure limited physical contact, particularly with adults, during the campaign.

The CM directed the health department to start a special campaign in 23 UCs of District Central and West to immunise 26,742 children.

He also directed the EOC to share the national guidelines for vaccination during the COVID-19 pandemic with all the vaccinators and distribute personal protective equipment (PPE) among them.

The CM directed the EOC to launch monthly campaigns from July to December with the support of the WHO. He added that five mobile vaccination vans may be deployed with the support of Interactive Research & Development (IRD) in the high-risk UCs of Karachi.

The meeting agreed that in order to protect the field staff and community during the drive, PPE should be provided to each member of the field staff during the campaign.