Polio Eradication: Sindh Task Force sets eye on reaching zero
Karachi - To review the ongoing polio eradication initiatives in the province, a meeting of Sindh Task Force (STF) was held in Karachi with Chief Minister Sindh Syed Murad Ali Shah and Prime Minister’s Focal Person for Polio Eradication Senator Ayesha Raza in the chair.
STF was attended by provincial health minister Dr Sikandar Mendhro, Chief Secretary, Inspector General of Police and representatives of partner organizations--WHO and UNICEF. After thorough deliberations on the progress made so far, the Task Force asked the provincial teams to embrace the practices of pragmatic excellence that had eliminated the poliovirus elsewhere.
Chief Minister Sindh directed chief secretary to include a column in the Annual Confidential Reports (ACRs) of the DCs, commissioners and DHOs to determine whether they were taking interest in the polio drives. He said that “I will make sure that concerns raised by IMB report--on lack of political commitment and Sindh being the last resort in the world for polio virus—are addressed and Sindh becomes Polio free in the coming months.”
Prime Minister’s Focal Person, Senator Ayesha Raza said that political resolve with strict administrative measures will help reach the goal of zero. “Our aim should be nothing less than achieving the magical figure of zero, because we should all understand that entire world is look towards us and we can earn respect among global community only by eliminating the virus.”
STF was briefed about the progress of the PEI in the province, findings of the Independent Monitoring Bard (IMB) and roadmap proposed for complete polio eradication in National Emergency Action Plan (NEAP) 2016-17.
Briefing the Task Force, Coordinator for National Emergency Operation Centre (NEOC), Dr. Rana Safdar gave an overview of the country-wide progress of Polio campaigns, operational procedures, surveillance mechanism, efforts aimed at developing synergy between Polio Eradication Initiative (PEI) and Expanded Program on Immunization (EPI) for strengthening routine immunization and accountability framework.
Director Fayaz Jatoi presented a comparative study of polio cases in the province since 2013. He said that in the year 2013, 10 polio cases -- eight in Karachi and two in rural Sindh – were reported, in 2014 30 polio cases -- 23 in the city and seven in rural Sindh – emerged, in 2015, the number of polio case was 12 -- seven in Karachi and five in rural Sindh – and during the current year, five cases -- one in Karachi and four in rural Sindh -- have been reported. He added that on January 17, 2016, one case was reported in Gadap, another came up in Sujawal on September 3, 2016, and two cases were reported in Shikarpur.
The chief minister, showing his displeasure, said he would take action if any officer, from the administration or the health department, was found negligent in launching polio campaigns. He directed the health minister to conduct an inquiry in Shikarpur and Sujawal against district health officers, taluka health officers and deputy commissioners and submit a report to him.