KARACHI - Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah has said that the provincial government is committed to eradicating polio from Sindh.

However, he quickly added this was a national issue and all the provincial governments would have to combat it in their respective areas, otherwise the threat would always be looming large.

He was presiding over a Provincial Task Force meeting held here on polio eradication at the CM House on Thursday,

Health Minister Dr Sikandar Mendhro, Aseefa Bhutto Zaradri, MNA Azra Pechuho, Chief Secretary Rizwan Memon, Karachi Mayor Waseem Akhtar, Police IG AD Khawaja, Coordinator Emergency Operation Centre for Polio Fayyaz Jatoi and others attended the meeting, while the representatives of federal government and WHO also showed up. The chief minister said that he was giving extra-ordinary attention to anti-polio campaign by ensuring security for the teams administering polio drops to the kids. “Therefore, I want to see Sindh free from polio,” he said.

He said that he was quite satisfied with the findings of the report that had stated that during the first five months of 2017 no polio case had been reported anywhere from Sindh. “I hope this year would prove to be zero polio year,” he said.

Briefing the meeting, Coordinator Emergency Operation Centre for Polio Fayaz Jatoi said that during the first five months of 2017 only two polio cases had been reported in the country; one in Gilgit–Baltistan and another in Punjab.

He added that during 2014, some 30 polio cases had been reported from Sindh.

“The figures dropped down to 12 in 2015 and went further down to eight in 2016,” he said, and added, “Thanks to Allah it is zero this year.” Aseefa Bhutto urged the polio teams to maintain zero figure and work hard to eradicate its virus also.

Fayyaz further said that Karachi was vulnerable to the disease and the samples collected from different areas such as Machhar Colony, Sohrab Goth and Gadap contained polio virus. “But now polio rate in Karachi is negative. However, there are some indications about the presence of virus in areas of lower and Northern Sindh,” he said, and added that necessary measures had been taken to control the situation.

He further told the meeting that polio coverage in Karachi was around 90 percent, but still 80,000 children had been left out of immunization because of two reasons such as refusal by parents or absence of children in their homes. The CM directed him to convince the parents who refused to let their kids administered polio drops and try to reach out to those who were not present at their homes earlier.

He directed Minister Health Dr Sikanadar Mendhro to post District Health Officers (DHO) where these positions are vacant. “Don’t allow these positions on additional charge for long because we have given ownership to polio work,” he said, and directed, “Therefore there must be proper working at every rank.”

It was pointed out that most of the districts in Northern Sindh had shown good performance in terms of controlling the situation, while areas of lower Sindh had witnessed operational improvements since the detection of first case in September. The meeting was told that the proportion of female workers was increasing steadily, but still it remained a challenge. However, on the directives of the chief minister special mobile teams have been introduced in the coastal belt. The CM directed to transfer management control of EPI to PPHI in districts, Tharpakar, Badin, Sujawal, Kashmore, Kambar, Sanghar and Sukkur.

He also issued directives for the creation of posts for district surveillance coordinator (DSCs)/field surveillance medical officers.  The national coordinator for Pakistan’s Progress Towards Zero Polio said that the environmental surveillance results of the last 52 weeks had showed persistence of polio virus in Karachi and Quetta.

He stressed continuous intense focus on core reservoirs to maintain high immunity, improvement in the coverage of high risk mobile populations.

The chief minister urged him to further strengthen closer collaboration with Afghanistan, especially on Southern Corridor transmission and also called for high quality surveillance across Pakistan.

It was unanimously decided that further close coordination would be developed for receiving sustainable positive results by making Sindh polio free.

Meanwhile, acceding to the request of the taxpayers, Taxpayers’ Association and Tax Bar, the Sindh Revenue Board , with the approval of Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah has issued Tax Incentive Package which provides substantial benefits and relief to the taxpayers, service providers and withholding agents in return for their tax compliance. The package includes exemption of up to 95 percent of the amount of default surcharge, total remission of penalties and immunity from arrest and prosecution if the taxpayer deposits.

The liability of the arrears of tax plus 5 percent of the amount of default surcharge thereon between 19th May, 2017 to 25th May, 2017; the liability or arrears of tax plus 10 percent of the amount of default surcharge thereon between 26th May, 2017 to 2ndJune, 2017; and the liability of arrears of tax plus 20 percent of amount of default surcharge between 3rd June, 2017 to 9th June, 2017.

In this regard, a notification No. vide its notification No. SRB-3-4/7/2017 dated 18th May, 2017, has been issued.   In cases where no tax liability is outstanding but only the arrears of amounts of penalty and default surcharge are outstanding, the tax incentive package allows the remission of 90 percent  of the amount of such penalty and 75 percent of the amount of such default surcharge, if the balance of the amounts of penalty and default surcharge is deposited during the period from 19th May, 2017 to 9thJune, 2017.

SRB has advised all taxpayers, service providers and withholding agents to avail of the benefits of the said Tax Incentive Package which shall expire at the close of the 9th June, 2017. The incentives announced through this concession provide an opportunity to the taxpayers who, for any reason, have not been able to clear up their tax liabilities, added up by default surcharge or, in some cases, the amounts of penalty, over the period involved. This may also help reduce the litigation in cases where the taxpayers have gone to the courts of law seeking relief on default surcharge or penalty.

Polio eradication campaign

from 23rd

Meanwhile, Karachi Mayor Wasim Akhtar said on Thursday that a campaign for the eradication of polio had been planned from 23rd to 27th May during which polio vaccines would be available in more hospitals and healthcare centers run by KMC and DMCs.

He was presiding over a meeting here at his office, which was attended by Deputy Mayor Karachi Dr Arshad Vohra, Director Medical and Health Services Dr Mohammad Ali Abbasi, coordinator to mayor for polio eradication campaign Dr Khawar Zubair, Dr Asif Usman and others.

The mayor said it was unfortunate that germs of this disease were still found in Pakistan although polio had been eradicated from many countries of the world.

He said polio vaccines would also be available at Karachi Zoo, Safari Park and other recreation centers.

He said all efforts will be made to eradicate this disease from Karachi during the campaign which will kick off on May 23.

He also directed the food and quality control department to make 42 vaccines available for the campaign so that children across the city could be vaccinated against the disease.

Meanwhile, Mayor Karachi Wasim Akhtar attended a programme held in the Civil Hospital Karachi on the International Nurses Day. Deputy Mayor Dr Arshad Vohra, former provincial minister for health Shabbir Qaimkhani and others were also present on the occasion. The speakers highlighted the importance of nursing in medical institutions and said such people served the ailing humanity in a befitting manner.

Deputy Mayor Dr Arshad Vohra and Shabbir Qaimkhani also spoke on the occasion and paid tributes to the nurses. Mayor and the deputy mayor were also presented with Ajrak and shield on the occasion.


Our Staff Reporters