Many LHWs from Rawalpindi cantonment wards 4,9,6 and 8 told Express Tribune that they were unhappy by the unconcerned attitude of the authorities towards their profession.
One of them on the condition of anonymity told The Express Tribune that Benazir Bhutto during her tenure started a National program for family planning and primary health with the help of United Nations International Children Emergency Fund (UNICEF) in 1994. She further added that LHWs were now asked to perform to other tasks instead of their primary job — family planning.
LHWs used to provide different medicines and tablets including vitamins A, B and C, calcium supplements, cough syrup to the mothers but unfortunately now they are not being provided with the medicines by the District Health Office. Medicines worth more than five million were thrown in Nullah Leh a couple of months ago as they had expired.
LHWs received quite a number of incentives in the past from the government which have since been stopped. Many even complained about not receiving salaries for the last three months and demanded an wage hikes which they said they were promised by the government. They even complained about not being provided with transportation allowances.
Lady Health Workers Tehseen, Robeena Baig and Gulzar Fatima had quit their jobs due to the indifferent attitude of the authorities. One of the LHWs said lady health workers were regularised in three provinces except Punjab, despite Supreme Court directions.
If a lady health worker did not come to work for a single day due to any reason, Rs500 is deducted from their salaries. She added that lady health workers were not even provided with stationary.
Another lady health worker said Water and Power Development Authority (Wapda) had declared health centres set up in the houses of LHWs are commercial consumers and are charged at commercial rates, adding her department never came in to assist them.
An LHW on polio duty in Cantonment General Hospital (CGH) said on condition of anonymity that they were not paid by the health department for a measles drive last year and also complained of not being paid for the last two months.
Speaking to Express Tribune on the issue of late salaries, District Health Officer Dr Khalid Randhawa said this was an issue in the past when the federal government transferred salaries to the Punjab government, which then paid staff, but “after the passing of the 18th amendment, the subjects had been transferred to the provinces and the provinces are now transferring salaries without delay”.
He also denied medicine was dumped in Nullah Leh as there is a proper procedure to discard expired medicine.
District Program Coordinator Javaid Iqbal Chaudary said bank branches were responsible for the delay in salaries and contradicted the DHO statement, saying that the federal government was paying salaries to LHWs and would continue paying till 2018.
He further added that the Punjab governor had approved a summary for regularisation of LHWs in Punjab in line with Supreme Court directives.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 11th, 2014.
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