ISLAMABAD: The Federal Minister of Health Ms Sherry Rehman has taken a strong note of the rise in polio cases in the province of Sindh, as one more case was reported this week bringing the total number of affected children to eight. Expressing her concern at the reports, the Federal Minister of Health has directed the Programme Manager, Expanded Programme for Immunization to immediately look into the issue and ensure effective implementation of the programme. A team comprising Dr H.B Memon, the National Programme Manager EPI, Mr Imtiaz Elahi, Additional Health Secretary, Dr Khalif Bile Mohamud, WHO Representative to Pakistan, and Dr Wahdan, Special Advisor to the Regional Director WHO is flying to Karachi on Monday to take stock of the situation. The team would also offer assistance in the implementation of the expert’s recommendation on the issue.
“The rise in the number of cases is alarming given the fact that there is no resistance to the immunization campaign in the province of Sindh” said Ms Rehman. She noted that all the cases reported in Sindh were found to have failed to receive sufficient doses of polio vaccine. “We have been told that there are issues of management in the health delivery system of the province with specific reference to polio. This is a cause of concern since this reflects weakness in the implementation area of the programme.”
The Federal Minister assured the provinces of the Federal Government’s cooperation in meeting the target of the total eradication of the disease. “If there was a proper follow up on the programme by the federal and the provincial authorities, the disease would have been eliminated by now. Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto initiated this programme in 1994 with the aim to totally eradicate the disease from the country.” She emphasised that a system of proper screening and efficient selection of polio teams be strictly enforced to ensure an effective implementation of the programme.
“There is also a need to redesign and implement the communication strategy of the campaign since it is clear that communication is one of the weak areas of the programme. Every single individual involved with the EPI need to be sensitised on the significance of this programme.” She said that the government is totally committed to carrying out the programme with seriousness and responsibility. A Polio-Free Pakistan was the vision of our Shaheed leader Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto and it is our responsibility to ensure that we meet the target of total elimination of this disease in the coming years.”-SANA