Increasing polio cases in northern Sindh perturb govt

Published March 23, 2015
In 2014, 23 out of 30 polio cases in the Sindh province were reported from Karachi.  —AFP/File
In 2014, 23 out of 30 polio cases in the Sindh province were reported from Karachi. —AFP/File

KARACHI: The Sindh government is extremely perturbed over the increase in polio cases from districts other than Karachi as the number was significantly smaller than that of the metropolis in the past two years, it emerged on Sunday.

The provincial health authorities have already reported four polio cases from three districts of northern Sindh in the current month, which too is considered to be alarming given the fact that for many years Sindh had reported its first case not before May.

Take a look: New polio cases in Sindh worry ministry

A comparison of confirmed polio cases in Karachi and the rest of Sindh in the previous four years shows that Karachi’s share was nine out of 33 in 2011; the next year it recorded no confirmed case out of four in the province. But the situation reversed in 2013 when Karachi’s contribution was eight out of 10 cases in Sindh while it increased phenomenally last year when 23 of 30 cases in the province were reported from Karachi.

This year all the four cases have been reported from the northern districts of Sindh.

Two of the cases reported this year have been reported from Dadu and one each from the Qambar-Shahdadkot and Sukkur districts.

The officials took pride while claiming that not a single case had been reported in Karachi since November last year, yet they were perturbed over the increasing incidence of the virus in the districts, where it had almost been in control since 2012.

“It has become a huge headache for us and denied us to feel ourselves in a comfort zone because of gains in Karachi,” said a senior official in the provincial health department.

Departmental investigations have been ordered to look into the causes behind the increase in the polio cases in otherwise polio free districts and special polio campaigns are being launched to target children there.

Critics said the situation had also exposed the narrow vision of the authorities concerned who focused on the tangible dangers in the so-called high-risk union councils and positively won gains but, on the other hand, failed to keep control on the rest of the province.

In Karachi, too, the officials conceded, the security situation remained fragile, which used to force polio campaigns cancelled or postponed as the required police could not be made available due to a host of reasons.

The officials, however, said they were trying to formulate a strategy to equally concentrate on the entire province as it was not just the Pakhtun community alone which had been a victim of the disease, mainly because of its hesitation against the vaccination campaigns, but other communities in the province were too being targeted by the virus for variety of reasons.

They said that an emergency operation centre to take care of polio situation was being planned for the entire province to be mapped for the disease instead of just parts of its largest metropolis.

Published in Dawn, March 23rd, 2015

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