KARACHI: With Sindh’s 26th polio case reported less than six days after the last, the country’s total count has gone up to 248 – a record high.
Vaccinating the young
The Sindh government claims that their four-day polio campaign in high-risk areas has almost met its target. They had hoped to vaccinate around 243,307 children from 11 Union Councils (UCs) – mostly refusal cases from previous drives. Karachi Commissioner Shoaib Ahmed Siddiqui claims that they have covered 96 per cent of the total target. He said that for the remaining four per cent, the campaign will continue for another day so there is a 100 per cent coverage. This, he added, is being done for the first time.
“Around 20 per cent were previously refusal cases,” said an official from the health department who did not wish to be named. “Luckily, we almost have it covered.”
The campaign, according to Dr Mazhar Khamisani of the Extended Programme on Immunization (EPI) for Sindh, was a success.
The health department’s officials claimed that this would not have been possible without help from the district administration and police as they helped convince people.
“We cannot knock on doors of mosques or seminaries but they can,” said another official. “Yes, more refusal cases have been covered in this campaign but what about those families which weren’t at home when our teams were there? These families could spread the virus.”
The UCs where the polio drive was carried out included, UC Gujjar, Songal, Manghopir, Ittehad Town, Chishti Nagar, Islamia Colony, Liaquatabad, Rahri, Muzaffarabad, Muslimabad and Chakra Goth.
The next step
Health officials from all four provinces are currently attending a three-day meeting on polio eradication in Islamabad where officials from the World Health Organization will also be present.
Sources informed The Express Tribune that officials from the Sindh health department will share their plans on how to tackle the virus during the meeting and ask for approvals on their plan for the low season – November to June, when the polio virus circulating in Karachi and other parts of the province can be controlled.
“We want to use the plan which has been recently applied in the 11 high-risk areas,” said an official who did not wish not to be named. “We have our own plans which fall with our social, political and law and order situation.” He added that all provinces were expected to share their own strategies as well.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 19th, 2014.