Polio risk high in 34 areas of Karachi

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KARACH: Forty-three areas in 11 districts, including 34 in Karachi division alone, are at a high polio risk whereas more than 38,000 cases of refusals were reported in the province during the national immunisation days observed in February this year.

This was shared during a meeting of the provincial task force for the eradication of polio held at the CM House on 27 April 2024.

The meeting, presided over by Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah, was organised to discuss the challenges in the upcoming national immunisation campaign scheduled for Monday (April 29) in 25 districts.

Briefing on the latest polio situation in the country, Health Minister Dr Azra Pechuho said that two polio cases had been detected this year in Balochistan; one in Dera Bugti and the other in Chaman district.

In Sindh, she said, environmental samples had been collected from all the districts and 43 areas of 11 districts were found to have poliovirus in their sewage.

These included 13 areas of Karachi East, three each of Central, Malir and Korangi, Hyderabad and Sukkur, six each of South and Keamari, and one each in Jamshoro, Jacobabad and Badin.

The chief minister was informed that a total of 38,743 cases of refusal were reported during the national immunisation days observed in February this year.

The meeting was informed that over 9.04 million children under the age of five were given polio vaccine at transit points over the last 15 months, starting from Jan 2023 to March 2024.

`A total of 275 transit posts were set up with 1.003 teams across Sindh. The department has also launched the Polio Ambassador Unitive Project in Karachi that is now being expanded across the province with 407 schools participating and 901 new Polio Ambassadors inducted this month, she said, adding that Polio Ambassadors were advocating for the cause of vaccination in their homes, communities and schools.

Over 0.6m workers to participate in drive The chief minister was informed that the National Immunisation Campaign would be launched on Monday in 25 districts of the province, during which 8m children below 5 years of age would receive oral polio vaccine (OPV).

Over 600,000 frontline workers would participate in the drive. The anti-polio drive would be carried out in 201 union councils of Karachi in which 24,656 polio workers would perform their duties.

`Eradication of polio is a collective responsibility. Therefore, the district administration, local bodies, civil society members and our partners must work together to save children from the crippling disease. All deputy commissioners and SSPs must ensure its success, the chief minister said during the meeting.

It was decided that the health department would share the list of the poliovirus-infected union councils with local bodies/towns and the district administrations to ensure proper cleanliness, efficient disposal of wastewater and provision of clean drinking water.

Mr Shah directed the staff to ensure that no parent was allowed to refuse administration of polio drops to his/her children and report the case to the administration for action.

He also directed the polio teams to administer polio drops to 126,553 children who were not available at their homes during the February 2024 campaign.

The CM directed IG Police to provide 3,833 policemen for security. He also directed him [IGP] to provide similar security to other teams to work in rural areas of the province.

The attendees included Karachi Mayor Murtaza Wahab, Secretary to CM Raheem Shaikh, Home Secretary Iqbal Memon, IG Police Ghulam Nabi Memon, Commissioner Karachi Hassan Naqvi, EOC Coordinator Irshad Sodhar, DG Health Dr Waqar and Secretary School Education Zahid Abbasi.

Acknowledgement: Published in Dawn News on 28th April 2024.
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