Sindh emergency centre opens to tackle polio surge
KARACHI: Sindh has become the first province to have an emergency operation centre to deal with a surge in polio cases under a World Health Organisation (WHO) demand after its formal inauguration by the health minister on Thursday.
The establishment of the centre in the building facing the office of the Sindh chapter of Expanded Programme on Immunisation (EPI) had been notified in October last year.
The Independent Monitoring Board for Polio had recommended its establishment before July 1, 2014. According to the recommendation, a new entity should work under the direct supervision of the president and the prime minister and its sub-entities be established in all the provincial capitals.
Officials said Sindh was the first province to notify the emergency operation centre (EOC) to be headed by an additional secretary of CM House along with representatives of the WHO, Rotary International and several other bodies trying to eradicate the crippling disease.
Senior health officials, Dr Azra Fazal Pechuho and Shehnaz Wazir Ali of the provincial oversight committee on polio, officials of the law enforcement agencies and representative of Unicef and WHO attended the opening ceremony.
The officials said better strategies were being contemplated to ensure the nationwide anti-polio campaign, National Immunisation Days (NIDs), could be effectively carried out.
Following the opening of the facility, the minister presided over a meeting to address security fears obstructing polio campaigns in Karachi.
Sources privy to the meeting said Ms Pechuho was unhappy over government’s failure in establishing a 700-strong police force, exclusively for polio campaigns in 11 sensitive union councils, which was a reason for incomplete and unsuccessful polio drives. It was said in the meeting that volunteers had been asked not to move into the areas where police were not available to protect them.
The meeting was informed that three NIDs and as many special campaigns were scheduled to be carried out in the city over the next six months. At least 3,000 police officials were required for the protection of thousands of polio vaccination teams during these campaigns.
The sources quoted the minister as assuring the officials that the required policemen would be provided for the future drives.
Cricketers inoculate children
Test cricketers Asad Shafiq, Sarfraz Ahmed, Fawwad Alam and Anwer Ali visited district central deputy commissioner’s office where they teamed up with DC Dr Saifur Rehman to administer polio drops to children.
“They resolved to join in our efforts to eradicate polio from Pakistan for good,” said Dr Rehman while speaking to the media.
Published in Dawn, January 2nd, 2015
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