Deputy commissioners are coordinating with the teams to make the drive successful
KARACHI: A three-day polio campaign started on Monday in the most risky districts of Sindh. At least four million children under the age of five will be administered oral polio vaccines to combat the crippling disease.
In the first phase of the campaign that took place from October 7 to October 10, 98 per cent of the target in Karachi was achieved. According to officials, the total coverage in Baldia Town was 94 per cent, Bin Qasim Town 103 per cent, Gaddap Town 100 per cent, Gulshan-e-Iqbal 96 per cent, Gulberg Town 91 per cent, Jamshed Town 94 per cent, Keamari 100 per cent, Korangi 103 per cent, Landhi 102 per cent, Liaquatabad 93 per cent, Malir 105 per cent, Nazimabad 97 per cent, North Karachi 96 per cent, Orangi 100 per cent, Saddar Town 99 per cent and SITE Town 98 per cent. In areas where the achieved target exceeded 100 per cent non-residents have also been counted.
Health officials told The Express Tribune that three environmental samples taken in August were positive for polio, including two from Gadap Town and one from Gulshan-e-Iqbal. According to an official, aggressive campaigns will be launched in these areas, especially in Gulberg from where the year’s first case was detected.
The second phase in risky districts of the province also began on Monday. These include three districts, Dadu, Qambar-Shahdadkot and Sukkur, where four polio cases had been reported this year. Hyderabad, Larkana, Jamshoro, Sanghar, Ghotki, Shikarpur, Jacobabad, Kashmore, Naushehro Feroze, Shaheed Benazirabad and Khairpur are also considered risky areas.
The deputy commissioners of all districts are chairpersons of the district polio eradication committees and it is their responsibility to monitor and assist the polio teams in their respective areas.
These district officials held a final meeting around 15 days before the drive started and remained in contact with the provincial teams to ensure effective coordination. The district officials are also responsible for providing vehicles and boats for far-flung areas or where teams can only use boats.
“There are law and order issues in these districts, such as Karachi,” said Dr Muhammad Usman Chachar, the coordinator of the Emergency Operations Centre (EOC). He said that the police and district administration were completely in the loop, even before the launch of the drive.
Explaining the reasons behind the campaign in only 14 specific districts, he said that only those areas have been selected for the October campaign where issues, such as improper routine immunisation or the presence of the virus, persist. Dr Chachar said that the three-day campaign in these districts could be extended if needed. “Everything is fine in these areas,” he commented at the end of the first day. He said that the EOC also constitutes teams to re-check figures shared by the district polio teams.
After this year’s first polio case was reported from Karachi, most of the health department officials were disheartened, believing that their hard work did not produce the desired results. “We had high expectations. The Sindh government had high expectations. Everyone was committed and expected to make Karachi polio-free this year but it was all in vain,” commented an official who wished not be named.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 13th, 2015.