KARACHI - Sindh Chief Minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah has said that his government was working hard to eradicate polio but due to different reasons the results have not been achieved so far.

"It is quite alarming and painful for me that in northern parts of Sindh, polio cases have been detected. Immediate measures must be taken to control the situation."

This he said while presiding over a special meeting on polio, provision of water and on the cleanliness issues of the city here Sunday. Aseefa Bhutto Zardari specially attended the meeting. Those who attended the meeting include MNA Azra Pechuho, provincial ministers Jam Mehtab Dahar, Jam Khan Shoro and representatives of health, local government.

The meeting was told that four polio cases have been detected in 2016, of them two in Shikarpur, one in Jacobabad and one in Gadap. It was observed that interior areas of Sindh were over all on track with pockets of virus circulating in northern districts, especially Larkana division (Jacobabad, Sikarpur and Sukkur).

The meeting was informed that the environmental samples off and on were found positive in Gadap town but April was the only fortunate month in which samples were found negative. "If the virus keeps circulating in some areas it means there is risk of spread of the virus," said MNA Dr Azra Pechuho.

Programme Manager of Anti-Polio programme Dr Usman Chachar said that low population immunity, low routine immunization, high number of polio vaccine refusals in Karachi and zero dose routine immunization are some of the major issues in the province.

Sindh Chief Minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah directed the chief secretary to delegate powers to commissioners for prompt action and accountability in respect of polio campaigns. He ordered issuance of notification of divisional task forces for Karachi, Sukkur and Larkana for oversight and management.

He also issued directives for establishment of emergency Response Unit at Larkana and technical support unit at Karachi. "I want the health department, divisional and district administration to collectively focus on routine immunisation and synergy with polio eradication activities," he said.

Talking about interior areas of Sindh, the chief minister stressed on the need of vaccination of moving population at parks, trains and at bus stops and more focus may be made on high risk population movement to and /from KP and FATA.

Aseefa Bhutto Zardari said that frequent meetings are not enough but "you have to be focused and result-oriented." She said, "We should make ourselves accountable in the sense that what results we have achieved from our efforts made so far.”

She emphasised the need of being more focused to eradicate polio.

Earlier, Sindh Chief Minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah and Aseefa Bhutto Zardari held a separate meeting with Faisal Edhi. Aseefa Bhutto giving message of Asif Ali Zardari to Faisal Edhi said that her father was keen to send legendary Abdul Sattar Edhi for medical treatment abroad and he (Mr Zardari) would bear all the expenses of his treatment.

Faisal Edhi said that he would discuss it with his father and then let her know about his decision. He requested the chief minister to allot 10 acres of land to Edhi Foundation for graveyard. Aseefa Bhutto also urged the chief minister that the demand of Faisal Edhi was very genuine and must be honoured.

The chief minister directed Senior Member Board of Revenue (SMBR) Mr Rizwan Memon to take necessary measure for allotment of land for graveyard.

"Edhi foundation was working for humanity and we must extend our helping hand," he chief minister and assured the Faisal Edhi that his request would be entertained.

Meanwhile, Sindh Local Government Minister Jam Khan Shoro briefed Aseefa Bhutto Zardari on the cleanliness campaign being launched in the city. He said that the government has released funds and garbage lifting has been started by all the DMCs.

He also said that free tanker service has been started in the all districts. Special focus has been given to the water-short areas such as district West and Central. He added that the chief minister has released Rs1.9 billion for repair, maintenance and beautification of important roads in the city.

Separately, Aseefa paid a surprise visit to Lyari, a stronghold of Pakistan People’s Party (PPP). Aseefa met with locals who chanted pro-Bhutto slogans. She said that she is committed to improving sanitation and portable water access to the people of Lyari.

ABDULLAH ZAFAR