700 vaccinators threaten to boycott polio drive if jobs not regularised
Karachi - Around 700 vaccinators hired by Gavi (Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation) in Sindh threatened on Wednesday to boycott the upcoming polio vaccination campaign from February 18 as well as routine vaccination in the province if their services were not regularised as promised by the provincial high-ups.
“Initially, we, the Gavi vaccinators, were being paid Rs2,700 to Rs3,000 and then this amount was raised to Rs7,000 eight years ago, and we are now striving to get our services regularised but our demands are not being met,” Gavi vaccinators’ representative Nabi Bux Jalbani told The News.
The perturbed vaccinators held protest demonstrations throughout the province, including Karachi, on Wednesday and demanded from the Sindh government to regularize their jobs or else they would be compelled to boycott the upcoming polio vaccination campaign as well as routine immunisation in the province.
Sindh is the worst affected province due to the outbreak of measles, a preventable viral disease which is controlled through vaccination under routine vaccination programme of the Expanded Programme of Immunisation (EPI) and if the vaccinators stop working, the measles situation may further deteriorate in the province.
“Some of the vaccinators wanted to self immolate but I stopped them and urged them to observe peaceful protest and boycott work. I warn the government that if our demands of regularisation are not met, the vaccination process will come to a halt in the province,” Jalbani claimed.
Over 110 children have died so far in the first 43 days of the current year due to measles in the province and the government is busy carrying out an emergency vaccination program against measles to control the measles outbreak and deaths of children in the province.
“Tomorrow we will hold a protest sit-in at the President House in Nawabshah and our colleagues in Karachi will hold a demonstration in front of the Sindh Assembly building for the acceptance of our demands,” the Gavi vaccinators’ representative announced.
According to him, Sindh Chief Minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah had already approved a summary for their regularisation and now it was lying with the Sindh Chief Secretary who was using delaying tactics and red-taptism in issuing notification for the regularization of the Gavi vaccinators.
In Karachi, several dozen vaccinators held a protest demonstration in front of the Karachi Press Club (KPC) and demanded issuance of notification for the regularisation of their services.
“Almost 90 percent of our demands are fulfilled as the CM has approved the summary but the chief secretary is not issuing the notification,” said Hakim Aziz, a young vaccinator, outside the KPC.
He said that the Gavi vaccinators would gather in front of the Sindh Assembly building on Thursday and hold a demonstration there to apprise the provincial lawmakers of their sufferings and draw their attention towards their lingering issue.
“Our salaries are meagre and most of the Rs7,000 paid to us is consumed on transportation when we travel to different areas for vaccinating the children. Regularisation would cover our health and transportation charges and therefore it is a matter of life or death for us,” he maintained.
When contacted, officials at the provincial EPI said that the Gavi vaccinators were justified in their demands of regularization and feared that if they boycotted the upcoming polio drive and routine immunization, it would have far-reaching affects on the health situation in the province.
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