Zardari for adopting innovative steps to purge polio
KARACHI - President Asif Ali Zardari Tuesday advised the authorities concerned to follow innovative strategies in reaching out to those populace and places that were still serving as reservoir of the virus and have so far remained under-served due to various reasons.While reiterating the government’s commitment to undertake all efforts for complete eradication of polio virus from the country, he said there was no reason why polio virus transmission cannot be interrupted in the province if effective implementation of innovative approaches with optimum utiliSation of resources and proper vigilance is ensured. The President said this while addressing a specially convened meeting here at the Bilawal House to review the current situation vis-a-vis polio eradication efforts in Sindh.Those who were present during the meeting included among others Federal Minister for Inter-provincial Coordination, Mir Hazar Khan Bijarani, Secretary General to the President, Salman Farooqui, Sindh Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah, Special Assistant to Prime Minister and PM’s Focal Person for Polio Eradication, Shahnaz Wazir Ali, provincial ministers, concerned government officials and representatives of international partners against the polio disease.Zardari advised the provincial governments and the authorities concerned to consider setting up permanent booths in collaboration with non-governmental organizations at all transit points of the provinces, when attention of the meeting was drawn towards the fact that a large number of migrant population was among the major reasons for many children being left unattended during polio vaccination campaigns that are launched from time to time. The meeting was informed that Sindh province reported a total of 33 polio cases in 2011 compared to 27 polio cases in 2010. The province has reported 3 type-1 polio cases so far in 2012, from Hyderabad, Larkana and Mirpurkhas districts.It was informed that overall provincial vaccination coverage by finger marking in Sindh province was 98 percent. All the districts/towns had 95 per cent vaccination coverage by finger marking with the exception of Orangi, Liaqatabad and Gulberg towns of Karachi.The meeting was apprised that according to a market survey conducted in all the districts/towns of Sindh province, overall finger marking coverage in Sindh was 95 per cent except Shikarpur, Karachi and Tharparkar.Karachi showed more than 90% vaccination coverage by finger marking except a few areas that included Orangi, Liaqatabad, North Nazimabad, Bin Qasim, Kemari and SITE.He emphasised that polio eradication was doable job and he sees no reason as to why this crippling disease cannot be permanently eliminated from the country.He said that Benazir Bhutto formally launched polio eradication campaign in the country and the first child to be immunized against this disease was her own daughter Aseefa Bhutto Zardari, who was now Ambassador for polio eradication.The President directed the provincial government and the authorities concerned to especially focus on addressing epidemiological challenges that included the presence of wild polio virus in the sewerage water and the immunity gap and performance failures in some parts of the metropolitan. He emphasised that special attention be paid to high risk population where vaccination activities have remained sub-optimal so far and necessitates essential modification in the overall strategy.He also said that special attention be paid to raising awareness about this crippling disease in far flung areas of the province where the literacy rate was low and people do not have access to adequate medical facilities. Zardari, while urging all the concerned to undertake every effort and use all available resources to ensure that every child was reached during polio vaccination campaigns, advised the Commissioners and Deputy Commissioners of the province to personally monitor the campaigns and ensure that all the issues in reaching out to maximum population are addressed. He also thanked the international community for assisting Pakistan in polio eradication. The President reiterated government’s commitment to provide security to the international health teams which were helping the people and the government in eliminating polio virus from the country.