Environmental samples still positive with polio virus

Environmental samples still positive with polio virus

KARACHI: The environmental samples taken from the sewage in four different areas of Karachi have tested positive for the polio virus on Friday.

According to the officials of emergency center for polio, government of Sindh, these samples were collected during the month of July and were sent for laboratory analysis , results on Friday have confirmed the presence of polio virus in these areas.

"The samples collected were taken from Khameeso Goth, Gadap Town, Machar Colony and Sohrab Goth," said Fayaz Jatoi, coordinator, Sindh emergency centre, government of Sindh.

A six-day polio campaign has been initiated by Sindh emergency centre in the affected areas.

The locals said that along with the government, the citizens should also play their role in eliminating the virus.

"It is not uncommon for environmental to be positive in the season, as there are lot of traveling during summer, however, we are conducting anti-polio vaccine in the affected areas to ensure that the virus may not return," said Jatoi.

He said during recent campaign in selected areas, around 400,000 children were vaccinated in 13 Union Councils in Gadap, Gulshah e Iqbal and North Karachi.

In 2017, so far three cases of polio virus reported each one in Lodhran, Pubjan, Gilgit Baltistan and Qila Abduallah in Balochistan. No polio case had surfaced in Karachi since the past one and a half year; however, efforts are underway to eliminate the deadly virus.

The northern Sindh districts, which were reservoir of the polio virus along with Karachi, have also no any new case for past one year.

Despite all aggressive efforts by the Pakistan government and international donors, Pakistan has not yet became polio free country, for which different people give different reasons.

Some argue the quality and mishandling of the anti-polio vaccine by polio eradication teams is responsible. Others say that the refusals, those parents who refuse their children to get vaccinations, are the barrier. However, beside these reasons, climate change and worsening environmental is contributing major role and is restricting Pakistan from becoming polio free country.

The severe and frequent droughts, due to change in weather pattern as a result of climate change has badly affected arid regions of Sindh like Thar, Achro Thar, Nara Desert, Kacho and Kohistan that forced many from these areas to leave their native places.

So is with Balochistan that lies in arid region, where agriculture is totally dependent either on rain or on ground water, which is running out fast. Balochistan is also away from monsoonal path and has always remained more vulnerable to droughts, especially the southern districts and mass scale migration from these areas have not reported yet. In Northern Sindh and southern Punjab districts, depleting agricultural and increasing poverty due to environmental degradations in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has also caused displacement.

Most of these people rush to mega cities hoping for better life. Being country's biggest city and commercial hub, Karachi gets large number of people from these areas. But, since these people are poor and also are unskilled for jobs required in cities, they take time to get settled. But initially, they rush to slums.

According to official record of Sindh Katchi Abadi Authority, there are 564 slums in Karachi city, majority of them are located on drains and nullahs, which once supposed to carry rainwater, but now sewage flows through them and often officials find environmental samples from these areas positive.



Published in Daily Times, August 5th 2017.