Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah was on Monday displeased with the discovery of two polio cases in the province and directed the health department to intensify efforts to eradicate the disease and fulfil his government’s commitment to polio eradication.

He expressed his concerns during a meeting at the CM House in Karachi to evaluate the progress of polio eradication initiatives. The meeting was attended by various officials including Dr Azra Fazal, Mayor Karachi Murtaza Wahab, Chief Secretary Asif Hyder Shah, IG Police Ghulam Nabi Memon, Commissioner Karachi Hassan Naqvi, Secretary Local Government Khalid Hyder Shah, Secretary Health Rehan Baloch, CEO PPHI Javed Jagirani, Coordinator EOC Irshad Sodhar, DG Health Dr Waqar, and others.

The Chief Minister was briefed about two polio cases detected in May and June 2024. The first case involved a 30-month-old malnourished boy from the Jatoi tribe in Lakhi area of Shikarpur, who tested positive for polio on May 11, 2024.

The Health Minister, Dr. Azra Fazal, informed the CM that the child’s condition was improving, and the paralysis had subsided. In response to a question, Coordinator EOC Irshad Sodhar mentioned that the child had received three doses of RI OPV and two doses of IPV. Minister Health Dr. Azra highlighted that 73 per cent of children within six union councils of Shikarpur had been administered IPV.

The second case involved a three-year-old girl from the Malkani tribe in UC Keamari-3 of Karachi, who was diagnosed with polio on June 3, 2024. The affected child had received three doses of RI OPV, two doses of IPV, and over 7 doses of SIAs. The Health Minister mentioned that in response to this case, 18,000 children were vaccinated with OPV and over 4,000 children received the IPV booster dose. Positive messages from local influencers and doctors were shared on social and mass media, and awareness campaigns were conducted in affected areas.

The Chief Minister emphasized the need to sustain high-quality immunization campaigns with little margin of error in Karachi due to the significant risk posed by the amplification and spread of the polio virus. He also stressed the assessment of under-reported missed children and other risk factors, especially in-migrant settlements.

Coordinator EOC Irshad Sodhar reported that a special targeted activity was initiated to cover high-risk and under-immunized children as directed by the Chief Secretary. Over 600 outreach sites were set up in 183 UCs to target children who were still missed, persistently missed (PMCs), and zero-dose, along with administering the booster IPV dose. So far, 38920 children have been vaccinated with OPV and 18710 children have received IPV.

To a question the CM was told that in Karachi Sohrab Goth, Machhar Colony, Chakora Nalla, Rashid Minhas polio virus was detected from the sewage in September 2023. In June the environmental surveillance result of Machhar Colony and Chakora Nala came negative. Khamiso Goth, Mohammad Khan Colony, Orangi Nalla, Bakhtawar Goth, Korangi Nalla, Haji Mureed Goth, Hijrat Colony and Manzoor Colony have environmental Survellience results positive.

The environmental surveillance results for various divisions in Sindh are as follows: Sukkur Saddar Police Station: Positive.

Hyderabad: Tulsidas police station, Qadir Nagar Police area, and Latifabad Police: Positive.

Badin: Mahammad Wali Dargah police: Positive

Mirpurkhas Ring Road and Puraan area: Positive

The Chief Minister has instructed the health department to ramp up efforts for polio eradication. This includes engaging key influencers and conducting awareness sessions in Madares. Refusal of vaccination is not tolerated, and the health department has been tasked with fulfilling the government’s commitment to eradicate polio from Sindh.