Over 32 employees of National AIDS Control Programme (NACP) on Thursday warned to boycott their duties if they were not paid outstanding salaries of the past five months by Monday.
In 17 HIV treatment centres nationwide, which includes one at Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences, the lives of over 6,525 registered patients depend on the antiretroviral drug, that the employees have threatened to withhold.
When no one is concerned about our children dying of hunger, why should we care about others? said some of the protesters. We have decided to stop the vital drug’s supply if our demand is not fulfilled by next week, they threatened.
Protesters said Planning and Development Secretary Muhammad Javed Malik, inter-provincial coordination secretary and the Finance Division had violated Islamabad High Court’s orders by withholding their salaries. A contempt of court case was filed against these officials in October and its first hearing is scheduled for Friday (today).
After the court’s judgment in January, all employees were regularised and they received salaries till June. The protesting officials who rank in seniority from grade 1 to grade 18.
Behaviour Change Communication Coordinator for prevention of HIV/AIDS Naeem Akhtar told The Express Tribune that the programme was devolved to the provinces, but the prime minister revived it after international donor agencies mounted pressure on the government to form a central body.
NACP’s PC-I was approved by the executive committee of the National Economic Council and Rs247 million was allocated for 2012-2013 for salaries and funds to conduct awareness and advocacy sessions.
An instalment of Rs49 million for the first quarter was withheld, disrupting the awareness campaign. “The number of HIV/AIDS patients has increased from 10 to 30 per month and discontinuation of awareness sessions might make the situation worse,” said Akhtar.
A driver with NACP since 1996, Mohammad Nazir, who has four children to feed cannot afford treatment for a tumour in his leg. Mohammad Razaq, another employee, has stopped taking his medicines to control his diabetes.
The planning and development secretary was unavailable for comment.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 2nd, 2012.
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