Sindh gears up for battle against polio

April 24, 2010

KARACHI: It seems that polio cases are becoming a fear of the past in most countries except for Pakistan. Polio vaccination week begins today and continues till April 30.

A meeting was held on April 19 to review the increasing reports of polio cases and to formulate a strategy to deal with them. According to Dr Altaf Bosan, manager of the national polio eradication programme, there has been a 25 per cent increase in the number of polio cases across the country in 2010 while everywhere else in the world, the number of polio cases has fallen by 78 per cent from last year. An all-inclusive policy that requires DCOs to get personally involved in the anti-polio campaigns was devised at the meeting.

The DCOs have been told to monitor and supervise all activities. They have to hold a meeting every month to review the progress on making Sindh a polio-free province. Technical staff from the World Health Organisation and UNICEF will be invited to give feedback on the programme. An efficient chain of command is being put into place where all officers will have to report to their supervisors to maintain accountability. A quarterly meeting will be held at the provincial level and will be attended by the chief secretary, all DCOs and Health EDOs.

All information on the distribution of money, vehicles and officers will be made transparent. Staff will be divided among different districts so that each union council will have two vaccination weeks between April 24 and April 30. “I want results,” said the chief secretary at the meeting, urging all officials to take their jobs seriously. “We have no reason to fail,” he added after reviewing arrangements. Dr Bosan said that the country needs to follow Nigeria’s pattern of polio prevention.

There has only been one reported case of polio in 2010, whereas last year 173 cases had been reported in the first three months. Their programme involved the local level government taking charge with the help of the people in a transparent manner. The major challenge in Sindh is an uneven coverage at district and lower levels, which leaves some areas neglected during the campaign and immunisation drives, he added.

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