Karachi, July 02, 2018 (PPI-OT): Caretaker Chief Minister Sindh Mr. Fazal-Ur-Rehman Chaired the provincial task force meeting on Polio at CM house on Monday where he expressed happiness that Sindh has not reported a single case of polio in 2018 and commended the polio eradication officers, front line workers as well as security personnel who have been instrumental in curtailing the spread of the polio virus in Karachi.
The meeting was attended by Minister of Health Sindh, Chief Secretary Sindh, Secretaries for Health, Finance, Home, Education and Literacy, Principal Secretary to CM Sindh, Technical Coordinator EOC Sindh Madam Shahnaz Wazir Ali, Coordinator EOC Sindh Mr. Fayaz Jatoi, Focal Person EOC Sindh Dr. Ahmad Ali Shaikh, Mayor Karachi Mr. Waseem Akhtar, Commissioner Karachi Mr. Muhammad Sualeh Ahmad Farooqi, Technical focal person national EOC Dr. Altaf Bossan, AIGP Karachi, Team Leads from UNICEF and WHO while commissioners from interior Sindh districts joined the gathering through video link.
Coordinator Emergency operation centre for polio (EOC) Sindh Fayaz Jatoi briefed the chief minister as to the progress made in polio eradication in Sindh and Pakistan. He highlighted the fact that there were 306 polio cases in Pakistan in 2014 out of which 30 cases were reported from Sindh (Karachi 23) but constant efforts and government ownership of the programme resulted in this number coming down to 8 polio across Pakistan in 2017 out of which 2 were from Sindh (Karachi).
In 2018 there have been no polio cases in Sindh, however 3 polio cases have surfaced in Pakistan which are all from district Dukki in Balochistan. He explained that the creation of the EOCs resulted in better management of the programme while the strategy of community based vaccination yielded good results which have brought us to where we are today. Mr. Jatoi however emphasized that even though there have been no cases of polio, we must continue the hard work as the virus keeps showing up in the environment from time to time.
On the issue of refusals, the chief minister was told that most refusals were because of repeated campaigns and misconceptions and the EOC is engaging with the communities to convert them. He informed that following the incident in Nawabshah there was a big spike in refusals but things are now slowly going back to normal. He requested the CM to support them in making schools accept vaccination during polio drives, especially in district West of Karachi where the numbers of refusal schools have increased. To this the chief Minister directed education department to issue a notification to urge them to welcome Polio team in administering polio vaccine to school children.
It was pointed out that there were some challenges such as vacant posts of DHOs and frequent migration patterns of populations to and from high risk areas. The provincial task force to support the EOC in appointing vaccinators in interior Sindh as well as engagement of NGOs forking on water, sanitation and hygiene in critical areas such as Gadap in Karachi.
Technical Coordinator EOC Sindh Madam Shahnaz Wazir Ali told the gathering that the polio programme in Pakistan started in 1994 and was inaugurated by Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto who vaccinated her own children to mark the occasion. She said that with time the structures in the health care system visa vis polio have strengthened and we are now in the last mile of polio eradication. She warned though that as long as the virus keeps showing up in the environment, we cannot be complacent and must double our efforts.
Minister Health Sindh, Dr. Sadia Rizwi on the occasion said that she is very impressed with the way the polio programme is structured and it the relentless efforts of all those involved that has brought down the case count in the province. Federal Team Lead WHO informed the meeting that every child, regardless of their economic background and routine immunization status must be vaccinated during every campaign in order to eradicate polio from the country.
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