Crippling disease: 11th case in Karachi

Another polio case was reported in Khyber Agency taking the country’s total to 117.


Our Correspondent August 20, 2014

KARACHI:


The total number of polio cases in the country went up to 117 as two new cases surfaced in Karachi and Khyber Agency.


In Karachi, the latest case was reported in Landhi taking the total number of cases in the province to 11.

Reports confirmed that Zakir Shah's one-year-old son Ahmed is said to have polio

as he was never vaccinated. Ahmed and his family live in Union Council 5, Mansehra Colony in Landhi. According to officials of the Extended Programme on Immunisation (EPI), the child's family refused to get him vaccinated against the virus.

"There will be more cases," said the EPI's provincial head Dr Mazhar Khamisani. "As long as the issue of the internally displaced person is there, the cases will rise." He added that this year, cases had been confirmed in areas they had already declared sensitive.

Polio campaign

A three-day polio campaign started in the city this week and is focusing on 46 sensitive UCs. Officials said that they are facing security issues in some areas.

According to Dr Zafar Ejaz, the executive district officer, the drive was deferred in Landhi due to an attack on a policeman in the area. They also had to reschedule the campaign in UC1 and UC2 SITE due to a lack of security for polio teams.

"Security is a major concern for our teams," said Dr Ejaz. "Our teams, however, are still going about and doing their jobs."

The current drive is being carried out in 12 towns and they plan to vaccinate a total of 501,000 children. Around 2,200 polio workers have been assigned to complete the task.

Dr Khamisani said that the polio campaign was not limited to the city's 46 UCs but also includes lower Sindh. He added that polio teams were also facing challenges in Gulshan-e-Buner. "The police is with our teams," he said, adding that there was good coordination between the health department and police. He claimed that it was necessary to initiate these campaigns in high risk areas due to a fear of the virus spreading.

The provincial chief of the polio programme said that his department was capable of eradicating the virus from the province but the influx of IDPs makes the situation challenging.

Security concerns

Polio teams across the city, especially in Landhi and Baldia Town, were under immense pressure as three police men were gunned down in these areas on Tuesday.

"They were scared but the situation is under control," said Dr Khamisani. He added that all teams will continue to carry out their duties.

In the past, militants have targeted the polio teams in various parts of the city, particularly in the outskirts.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 20th, 2014.

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