Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah administers polio drops to a child at the National Institute of Child Health on Monday.—PPI
Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah administers polio drops to a child at the National Institute of Child Health on Monday.—PPI

KARACHI: Faced with the threat of rising polio cases in the country, the Sindh government on Monday launched a week-long anti-polio campaign to inoculate over 9.9 million children under five.

Till date, Pakistan has reported 14 polio cases and all of them have been reported from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah formally launched the drive at the National Institute of Child Health (NICH).

The campaign would continue till Aug 21 in Karachi and Hyderabad divisions and then extended to Shaheed Benazirabad, Mirpurkhas, Sukkur, and Larkana divisions from Aug 22.

No polio case has been detected in Sindh since July 2020, says Murad

Speaking on the occasion, CM Shah said that oral polio drops would be given to over 9.9m children under 5 during the campaign.

“In the drive, 33,982 teams along with 9,137 supervisors will be participating across the province,” he said, adding that 3,556 partners staff from different organisations would be deputed for supportive supervision and monitoring.

He said that out of the target of over 9.9m children, more than 2.4m children lived in Karachi.

Referring to the detection of 14 polio cases in the country this year, the chief minister disclosed that the provincial government had increased vigilance at entry and exit points at inter-provincial borders after emergence of the first case from North Waziristan in April.

He said that no polio case had been reported in Sindh since July 2020 and all the environmental samples from the province were negative.

He termed it a great achievement for his government and the Emergency Operation Centre, Sindh. Mr Shah said that 571,566 children had been vaccinated in the province and of them 13,088 belonging to KP were administered vaccine at the province’s border.

“Children can be protected from childhood crippling diseases like polio through vaccination and we seek every stakeholder’s help to raise awareness for the purpose,” he said.

He said that efforts in the programme had resulted in around 50 per cent reduction in refusals and missed children but “we must bring them down further” especially in Karachi.

He said that Pakistan was one of the two polio-endemic countries in the world along with Afghanistan. “Remember, polio has no cure but can easily be prevented through vaccination and we are sending workers at your doorsteps, and I am sure people will cooperate with them and help save the future of Pakistan and eradicate polio,” he said.

‘Imran Khan is a great entertainer’

Talking to the media, the chief minister said that the people were attending Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf chairman Imran Khan’s rallies because he was a great entertainer and taught them new definitions of science, and geography, religion, and phenology.

“He [Imran] says a train equivalent to the speed of light is being invented...he says Germany and Japan share borders...he says Allah doesn’t allow people to be neutral and he also says Pakistan has 12 seasons,” he said, adding that people had no place to be entertained other than PTI rallies.

He said that musical shows, theatres and movies attracted people in large numbers but it didn’t mean that they would choose an entertainer as their ruler.

Replying to a question, the chief minister said that Rs1 billion for the repair of roads in the city had been approved by the provincial cabinet. “We are trying to arrange Rs10 billion for the reconstruction of roads and drainage systems damaged by heavy rains and for the welfare of the rain-affected people,” he said.

Health Minister Dr Azra Fazal Pechuho, Health Secretary Zulfiqar Shah and others were present on the occasion.

Published in Dawn, August 16th, 2022

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