KARACHI                    -              Sindh Chief Minister (CM) Syed Murad Ali Shah has said that his meeting with the governor on Sunday was a routine sitting. “We have been meeting of and on and there was nothing new in our meeting,” he said. Talking to the media just after launching a seven-day polio eradication drive by administering polio drops to children at Rural Health Center, Baldia on Monday morning, the chief minister said that he had sent five names to the federal government as replacements for the current Sindh IGP. “The removal of the IGP was decision of the cabinet, and being chief minister he is bound to honour the cabinet’s decision,” he said, and added the ball was in the federal government’s court now, and delay in posting the new IGP was beyond his understanding.

Replying to another question, the chief minister said that the local bodies had to start the drive against stray dogs. “I have given them instructions to start a special drive and save people, particularly the children, from dog bites,” he said. Earlier, when the chief minister reached RHC Baldia, he was received by Minister for Health Dr Azra Pechuho, Secretary Health Zahid Abbasi, Commissioner Karachi Iftikhar Shahalwani, and programme manager of anti-polio drive.

Murad said that Prime Minister Imran Khan, during his recent visit to the city, had told him that the federal government could not run three hospitals of Sindh, NICVD, JPMC and NICH, therefore he gave the provincial government the green signal to run them. He said that during his discussions with the PM, the latter said that he knew how difficult it was to run a hospital. “Therefore, the provincial government has to run these three hospitals,” the chief minister said while quoting the PM.

Murad said that he had given two options to the federal government. “Under the option number one, the federal government was asked to give these three hospitals to the Sindh government,” he said, and added if the federal government was serious in operating these hospitals, he would have no objection but then they [federal government] would have to return the money his government has been investing in these health facilities since 2011 as was directed by the federal government. 

Replying to a question about increase in the number of polio cases, the chief minister said that a problem was created against polio vaccine in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP), therefore the drive had come to a standstill. “The surfacing of 19 cases in 2019 is the result of that stalemate, otherwise we had controlled the polio and we had only one case in 2017,” the chief minister clarified.

He said that during this year, 2020 so far five polio cases had been detected. “This is seriously a painful development for me because I have been making efforts to control it, but so far my efforts have failed to bear fruits,” he deplored. Murad said that in November, there should have been the meeting of National Polio Eradication Taskforce under the prime minister, but it could be called.

He added that now as per the latest strategy local bodies, civil society and parents of the children would be involved to save our future generation from the crippling disease. “This is the question of our children – parents must decide whether they want to give healthy future to their children or disability for the whole life,” he asked and urged the parents all over Pakistan, particularly in Sindh, to get their children administered polio drops and ensure their healthy future. The CM said that 2.3 million children would be targeted in the seven-day campaign he had launched at Rural Health Center. Another campaign from February 17 would be launched in others districts of the province, with a target of 6.7 million children. He urged the parents to get their children administered polio drops at hospitals, if anyone of them was left out. 

He thanked the 13,000 workers involved in the drive, and also thanked the law enforcement agencies personnel who were giving them security. “All this is being done for the betterment of our children,” he said. The chief minister directed the health department to complete under construction 100-beded hospital in Baldia Town at the earliest.

However, the secretary health told the chief minister that the RHC Baldia had almost all the facilities, including of Gynecologist. He vowed to personally monitor the completion of Baldia Hospital.