KARACHI: Sindh Chief Minister (CM), Syed Murad Ali Shah has said that Sindh reported one polio case in Karachi in 2018 which is a historical low for the province and no incident has been reported this year. Despite these reports, all six districts of the city are still classified as `districts of high risk’ so strict measures would have to be taken to bring the menace at zero.
CM Murad declared polio vaccination mandatory in all public and private schools, adding that the schools which dare to refuse immunity against polio would be liable to strict actions.
The CM voiced these concerns while he was presiding over a meeting of Provincial Task Force for Polio Eradication at the CM House. The meeting was attended by Provincial Health Minister, Dr Azra Pechuho, Chief Secretary, Mumtaz Shah, Principal Secretary to CM, Sajid Jamal Abro, as well as the provincial secretaries of education, finance, health, local government, and divisional commissioners.
The CM was told that globally, Pakistan and Afghanistan were the only remaining countries with polio. In 2019 to this date, Pakistan has one polio case from Bajour while one case has been reported from Afghanistan. In 2018, Pakistan reported 12 cases including six in Khyber Tribal District (KTD), two in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK), three in Balochistan, one in Sindh and one in Punjab.
In Sindh, all six districts of Karachi are still classified as `Tier 1′ core reservoir, i.e., the area of high risk. The chief minister said that it was something to be worried of but “we would take drastic measures with proper planning and focus,” he said.
It was pointed out that, in 2019, no polio case had been reported from Sindh; whereas, last year one polio-case was reported from Karachi, the Gadap area.
The virus has been isolated from environmental sites (taken from the sewage system) which indicated on-going virus transmission.
Giving a presentation to Sindh Chief Minister, Provincial Coordinator EOC, Umer Farooque Bullo said that post Campaign Monitoring (PCM) has revealed that 96% of children have been vaccinated from September 2018 to January 2019.
At this, the chief minister expressed displeasure and said that out of 7.3 million children, 17,500 were at risk of developing a disability due to refusals and not being present at home. He directed the chief secretary to take drastic measures so that nobody could dare to refuse to immunize their child. He quoted, “This is a jihad for saving our future generation, and our people and even schools refused to immunize their children.”
The World Bank representatives appreciated the performance of the Sindh government saying that the Chief Minister was holding regular meetings; therefore the divisional and district administration was taking an active part in the campaign.