QUETTA: Chief Minister Balochistan, Dr. Abdul Malik has said that Balochistan was massively backward in health sector as “Hepatitis” had spread across the province which had become a deadly decease for the masses.
“If international organizations also take concrete measures against prevention of Hepatitis, it could be controlled in Balochistan,” he said, adding that due to dearth of resources, the infant and mother mortality rate was also much high that was a matter of great concern and stressed that.
Chief Minister said this while talking to a delegation of WHO and UNICEF headed by Dr. Ni’ma Abid, WHO Representative to Pakistan and Country Representative UNICEF Dan Rohrmann at Chief Minister Secretariat which called on him here the other day.
Chief Minister Dr. Abdul Malik Baloch told the delegation that there were 12000 schools in Balochistan and 30,000 more schools were required, adding that if the requirement of schools was made the number of students could be exceeded, and over 35,000 new vacancies of teachers could be created in the province.
Chief Minister commended the role of WHO and UNICEF against eradication of polio in Balochistan and said that during last 16 months no polio case had been surfaced in the province that was a good indication.
WHO representative to Pakistan, Dr Ni’ma Abid and the Country Representative of UNICEF Dan Rohrmann paid a visit to Quetta where they met high level government officials and discussed the risk of polio virus circulation in the province, following the detection of polio virus in environmental samples taken from Quetta earlier this month.
They appreciated the immense efforts taken by the government to improve oversight and accountability of the polio campaigns, and shared their concerns regarding the prevailing situation.
“Balochistan has shown remarkable progress in Polio Eradication in last two years” said Dr. Jawahir Habib Communication Specialist from UNICEF Quetta.” However, the province is still at a risk of polio virus circulation due to suboptimal quality of campaigns and extensive population movement between the provinces and across the borders with Afghanistan” she added.
In 2013, as many as 93 children were paralyzed for life time due to polio; most of them belonging to KPK and FATA. Balochistan had no polio cases last year; however confirmation of virus in environmental sample and recent polio case in Helmand district of southern Afghanistan has placed 2.24 million children of Balochistan at a risk of polio outbreak.
The Minister for Health Rehman Saleh Baloch in a press conference the other day shared that Polio Eradication is a top priority for the Government of Balochistan and efforts will be intensified to sustain the progress made in the program.
“I am personally monitoring the polio campaigns to ensure accountability” said Mr. Baloch. “Routine Immunization rates in Balochistan are lowest in the country, and current government is focusing on strengthening Expanded Program on Immunization” he added.
Pakistan is one of the only three countries in the world where the polio virus circulation has never been interrupted. To prevent the virus from spreading across the globe, the country may face travel restrictions if it does not achieve the goals set for polio eradication.
Published in The Balochistan Point February 15, 2014