KARACHI: Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah has said that polio has become a big challenge for his government but "I have accepted this challenge and would hopefully turn Sindh into a polio free province shortly."
He said this while presiding over a high profile meeting on polio here at the New Secretariat on Monday. Those who attended the meeting included Health Minister Dr Sikandar Mendhro, MNA Dr Azra Pechuho, Provincial Polio coordinator Shahnaz Wazir Ali, Chief Secretary Rizwan Memon, IG police AD Khowaja, Additional IG Karachi Mushtaq Maher, Secretary Health Fazal Pechuho, all divisional commissioners, CEO PPHI, PD EPI Fayaz Jatoi, representatives of federal government, representatives of WHO and Unicef and others.
Briefing the chief minister, the PD EPI Fayaz Jatoi said that during 2016 some 19 polio cases were detected all over Sindh, of them eight in Sindh, eight in KPK, two in FATA, one in Balochistan and zero case in the Punjab. He added that out of eight cases of Sindh seven are in rural areas and one in Karachi.
The chief minister was told that in 2015 there 54 polio cases in the country, including 12 in Sindh, 17 in KPK, 16 in FATA, seven in Balochistan and two in Punjab. On the chief minister said that it was painful that Punjab, Balochistan, FATA and KPK have improved but Sindh has shown a negligible progress. This shows that there is some problem which we have to address.
The campaign which was launched in end of September and December 2016 the target in Karachi was to cover 2.2 million children and 6.1 million children in rural areas of the province. In the city out of 2.2 million some 2.6 children were not available and 1.7 percent refused to intake polio vaccine.
On this the chief minister expressed his displeasure saying that it becomes of the responsibility of the district administration to ensure 100 percent coverage. "We all have to take ownership of the anti-polio drive, otherwise Sind would lag behind and I would not allow this to happen.
It was also disclosed that the staff in the KMC- managed health facilities are reluctant to participate in polio and EPI activities. LANDHI UC-I and UC -2, SITE UC 9, Baldia UC 2 are at high risk because of lack of health facilities. Apart from it there are non-functional hospitals in UC-4 Gadap Janat Gul Hospital. On this the chief minister directed Chief Secretary to talk to KMC administration and direct them to ensure proper participation otherwise action would be taken.
The chief minister directed the health minister and secretary health to activate Lady health Workers (LHWs) and utilize their services for eradication of polio out of the province. The chief minister was informed that they were on the protest because of nonpayment of their salaries from the last four months. On this the chief minister ordered finance department to release their funds immediately and pay them salaries.