KARACHI: Independent Monitoring Board (IMB) recommendations have been accepted by the Sindh Government for polio eradication to establish a Provincial Emergency Operation Centre (EOC).
The centre will coordinate and monitor polio eradication campaigns till the disease is eradicated from the province. This was decided in a meeting that was presided over by the Sindh Chief Minister (CM) Syed Qaim Ali Shah at CM House on Friday. Addressing the meeting, the CM asked the relevant officers to ensure that the EOC is functional by July 1. He said that senior government representatives, religious leaders and law enforcement officials should be made a part of this centre.
Shah said that his government is prioritising the eradication of polio. However, he added that migration from the northern areas of the country to Karachi has caused the polio virus to be carried into the province. Shah directed the Karachi police chief to provide at least 1,000 police personal for polio workers’ security and cordon off the areas where the polio campaign is being conducted. Expressing his concern over the emergence of six polio cases in Karachi in 2014 – all of them in Pashtu-speaking families – the chief minister directed the officers to especially focus on the areas and communities where the virus has been found in the past and ensure 100 per cent coverage.
Shah said that, in spite of the prevailing law and order situation and the shortage of police personnel, full security should be provided to the polio teams and expressed his hope that Sindh will soon be free from polio.
The provincial chairperson for the polio committee, Dr Azra Fazul Pechuho, while endorsing the recommendation of the IMB, said that the EOC would be linked with the Family Health Care Cell to gain public confidence and make the campaign more successful.
She said that two special polio campaigns will be conducted in June in Karachi, for which a foolproof security network is required. Dr Pechuho also recommended quarterly meetings to review and expedite the polio campaign. Earlier, the provincial polio focal person for the CM, Dr Ahmed Ali Shaikh, briefed the meeting and said that between 2009 and 2014, 30 polio cases have been reported from the same union councils of Karachi, most of which are in the district West. He felt that one-day campaigns are not sufficient and proposed special three-day campaigns.
Co-coordinator of the provincial polio oversight committee Shahnaz Wazir Ali, Sindh chief secretary Sajjad Saleem Hotiyana, home secretary Dr Niaz Abbasi, national focal person on polio for the prime minister Dr Altaf Hussain Bosan, World Health Organisation’s Dr Keith and Dr Saleh, Unicef’s Dr Ms Huma, Expanded Programme on Immunisation incharge Dr Mazhar Khamisani, Karachi police chief Ghulam Qadir Thebo and the Sindh deputy commissioners also attended the meeting.