KARACHI: Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah said on Saturday that the emergence of 24 polio cases in the province last year was agonising for him and now “we have to make 2020 a safe year by eradicating polio from the province with effective and coordinated efforts.
“Else, our future generations, if we allow them to suffer from this avoidable crippling disease, will never forgive us,” said the chief minister while presiding over a meeting of the provincial task force on polio eradication at the CM House.
The meeting was attended by provincial ministers Dr Azra Pechuho, Syed Nasir Shah, principal secretary to CM Sajid Abro and the secretaries of local government and health. All commissioners and deputy commissioners of the province took part in the meeting, which included those who could not show up physically and joined the meeting through video link.
The chief minister was told that 134 polio cases emerged across Pakistan last year — 24 were recorded in Sindh, 11 in Balochistan, eight in Punjab and 91 in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
Warns deputy commissioners against demolishing shanties in winter
Out of the 24 cases in Sindh, six were detected in Karachi and the remaining in other divisions.
The chief minister said most polio cases were linked with Karachi, thus, the health ministry and other relevant wings had to focus on Karachi by segregating the areas in categories so that their environmental samples could be brought to negative.
The meeting was told Gadap, Gulshan, Baldia, SITE, Korangi, Liaquatabad and Saddar towns of Karachi had been positive throughout 2019 as far as environmental samples were concerned. Similarly, Sukkur, Jacobabad, Hyderabad, Dadu and Qambar-Shahdadkot also returned positive results to environmental samples.
Emergency Operation Centre (EOC) head Rehan Baloch told the chief minister they had set the target of 9,076,523 children aged less than five years across Sindh. They included 2,293,687 in Karachi, 2,160,552 in Hyderabad, 1,514,246 in Larkana, 785,475 in Mirpurkhas, 1,093,139 in Benazirabad and 1,229,424 in Sukkur division.
He claimed the target was 100 per cent covered across Sindh as 82.1pc children, who had earlier been missed, were also covered. However, some 295,704 children had missed the recent campaign.
The chief minister asked the EOC official to ensure that not a single child remained without being administered with polio vaccine.
He asked him to send special teams to the houses of children who were not found earlier late in evening to ensure they were duly covered.
The chief minister was told that 95pc coverage had been achieved in the seven-day campaign in Karachi last month; while 100pc in other divisions of the province.
The chief minister ordered all commissioners and deputy commissioners to submit to him a report of their jurisdictions at taluka level about activities related to polio eradication.
CM Shah directed the LG minister to make local bodies more effective in terms of cleanliness so that poliovirus could be eradicated.
Mr Shah said greater focus should be directed at the 782 union councils, encompassing Sindh’s rural areas, where environmental samples had been found positive.
DCs warned against bulldozing shanties
Mr Shah asked all divisional commissioners and deputy commissioners to refrain from bulldozing any shanty house or cottage of the poor, or else he would take strict action against them.
Mr Shah said the Sindh cabinet had decided that no house would be bulldozed during the present harsh weather, adding that the apex court had ordered removal of encroachments along streets, footpaths and drains.
“But, district administrations have started bulldozing kachcha houses along embankments of canals leaving poor people and their children living miserably under the open sky.
“This is an inhuman act and will not be tolerated.”
CM Shah said he would not mind if some bungalows constructed on encroached land got bulldozed.
Mr Shah said on his instructions, the Sindh advocate general had met the chief justice of the Sindh High Court and requested him to stop district and sessions judges from ordering removal of kachcha houses.
Published in Dawn, January 12th, 2020