Alarm over rise in polio cases in Sindh
KARACHI: The chairperson of the national emergency action plan for eradication of polio, Sindh, MNA Dr Azra Pechuho, has expressed her regret at the increase in the number of polio cases in Sindh as 33 cases were reported in 2011 compared to 26 cases reported in 2010 in the province.
Presiding over a meeting of the expanded programme of immunisation (EPI) steering committee of Sukkur and Larkana divisions at the Chief Minister’s House here on Wednesday, she expressed her concern that instead of decline, seven additional polio cases had been detected.
Dr Pechuho expressed her concern that 197 cases of polio were reported in the country last year while neighbouring India, with a much larger population, had only one case in the same period.
She attributed the prevalence of polio virus in Sindh to lack of follow-up of micro- planning and described it as one of the factors responsible for the spread of the virus.
She stressed that micro- planning was followed strictly at all levels and directed that there must be entry of every vaccine carrier of each district and that the mobility record of all vaccine carriers must be available.
She directed that all authorities and officials concerned must comply with the strategy and emphasised the need for covering all target group children, including those living in areas bordering the province.
Dr Pechuho also laid emphasis on a focussed strategy in Katcha areas and prompt measures to combat emergency situations, like flood, when people tend to move to safer places.
She expressed the hope that there would be no more polio case in the northern areas of the province and urged all officials concerned to pay full attention towards implementation of the programme in letter and spirit.
Earlier, the project director of the EPI Sindh, Dr Mazhar Khamisani, in his detailed briefing focussed on Sukkur and Larkana divisions and referred to the augmented national emergency action plan for polio eradication-2012.
He said that milestones had been marked for the year 2012 and enhanced partnership for the implementation of the plan had been introduced in persistently under-performing areas.
Dr Khamisani said that the target of 90 per cent coverage would be achieved by March 2012 in Gulshan-i-Iqbal, Gadap and Baldia areas of Karachi and Thatta districts, leading to a prossible interruption of polio virus transmission to northern areas.
He said that a mass media campaign would be launched to mobilise wide-spread national and localised support for polio eradication efforts.
The EPI project director said that polio eradication was being redefined as a national emergency and all efforts were under way to achieve the goal through a national task force headed by the prime minister with wide representation of all
stakeholders, including the community leadership.
According to new elements, a wide-ranging communication programme was being implemented to engage communities and build demand for immunisation at the household level, said Dr Khamisani.
Sindh health secretary Hashim Raza Zaidi, commissioners of Sukkur and Larkana, deputy commissioners of Sukkur and Larkana divisions, district health officers and directors of health of Sukkur and Larkana divisions attended the meeting.
They discussed in detail the proposals and suggestions related to the polio eradication campaign.—APP