We made meaningful progress in battle against polio: Syed Murad Ali Shah

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KARACHI: There has been more than 60 per cent reduction in refusals and missed children in Sindh, which has not seen a single case of polio in 30 months, Chief Sindh Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah shared in a meeting with Dr Christopher Elias leading a delegation of the Polio Oversight Board (POB) following the launch of an anti-polio drive at the CM House on Monday.

The week-long campaign targeting eight ‘very high-risk’ districts in the province will cover over 2,771,089 children under the age of five years.

The targeted areas include seven districts of Karachi and district Hyderabad.

During the meeting with POB president Dr Elias, the chief minister spoke about the challenges Pakistan faced in its fight against polio and said the country had 20 cases of the disease since April 2022, all were reported in south Khyber Pakhtunkhaw.

“While we have made meaningful progress, the battle against polio is far from over. Positive environmental samples have been reported from across Pakistan which, along with Afghanistan, is one of the two polio-endemic countries left in the world,” Mr Shah noted.

About the polio situation in Sindh, he said the last cases were reported from Jacobabad and Malir in Karachi in 2020. The affected areas have had negative environmental samples for the past one year except one (positive sample) in August 2022 from Landhi, district Malir.

The provincial government, he pointed out, had increased vigilance over the entry and exit border points.

“The Emergency Operation Centre Sindh vaccinated 1,280,495 children. Of them, 30,937 belonged to south Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. If we continue with the same momentum, we will further see more significant results. But we must not get complacent and continue the hard work,” he said, seeking cooperation of all stakeholders to tackle the challenge of refusals and missed children, especially in Karachi.

The POB delegation appreciated the efforts of the Sindh government in eradicating polio. Dr Elias said polio had no cure but could be easily prevented through two polio drops.

An estimated 27,000 polio workers are participating in the drive for whom over 3,000 personnel are providing security cover.

An additional 26 senior field staff from other divisions of Sindh are deployed for monitoring and supportive supervision in the very high-risk and poor-performing union councils.

At the conclusion of the programme, the chief minister urged parents to cooperate with the polio teams reaching their doorsteps for vaccination and help save Pakistan’s future.

The POB delegation consisted of WHO Resident Director Dr Ahmed Al-Mandhari, Deputy Director Endemics Michael Galway, Global Polio Director Dr Hamid Jafari, Dr Palitha Mahipala of the WHO, Steven Lauwerier of Unicef and Aziz Memon of the Rotary International.

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