Verbal promises by govt fail to convince vaccinators to call off protest

July 14, 2020

Despite assurances from the Sindh health department that all the demands of the vaccinators will be met, hundreds of vaccinators from various districts of Sindh have vowed to follow their plan of a...

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Despite assurances from the Sindh health department that all the demands of the vaccinators will be met, hundreds of vaccinators from various districts of Sindh have vowed to follow their plan of a sit-in at the Karachi Press Club (KPC) today (Tuesday) and warned that if their demands are not met, they will start marching on the Sindh Chief Minister House in the afternoon.

Around 300 vaccination centres remained closed in Sindh on Monday as hundreds of vaccinators reached the KPC from various districts of Sindh as well as different areas of Karachi to protest and press the provincial government for acceptance of their demands, which include regularisation of jobs, payment of salaries and upgrade in their service structure in the similar fashion of Punjab and other provinces.

“Today, Additional Secretary Health Mushtaq Soomro along with Project Director of Expanded Programme on Immunisation (EPI) Dr Akram Sultan and Dr Sikandar Memon visited us at the KPC and assured us that all our demands have been accepted but we told them that without issuance of notifications, we would not end our protest,” Khuda Bux Qureshi, secretary general of the vaccinators’ Joint Action Committee told The News.

Hundreds of vaccinators chanted slogans in favour of their demands outside the KPC, saying that all the vaccination centres would remain closed till their demands were met.

“Vaccinators have been compelled to work without salaries for last several months. They are not being given any facilities by the department. We are subjected to injustices while heavy funds are received from international donors to facilitate the vaccination programme. This will not go on like this anymore,” Qureshi remarked and added that they felt sorry for the children who were not being vaccinated due to delaying tactics of the health department officials.

Other vaccinators alleged that some health department officials were involved in delaying tactics as they wanted to extort money from the salaries of the vaccinators. They said that instead of bowing before the demands of the corrupt officials of the health department, the vaccinators had decided to take to the streets and raise their voice against injustices.

“Sindh Health Minister Dr Azra Pechuho is asking people to get their children vaccinated at the EPI centres but she is actually being misled by officials because vaccination centres have been closed for weeks in Sindh because vaccinators are protesting. The fact is that the vaccination programme in Sindh has been suspended for an indefinite period. Children are not being vaccinated for any of the 11 diseases. We suggest that the government meet our demands and help the children get vaccinated,” said Qureshi.

Dr Sultan, who visited the KPC to negotiate with the protesting vaccinators, said all the demands of the vaccinators, including the regularisation of 58 GAVI and WHO vaccinators, issuance of salaries and upgrade of their service structure, had been accepted and now notifications in this regard would be issued in the due course of time.

“All the demands of vaccinators are genuine and have been accepted in principle by the health department. I’m their biggest advocate and today I along with Additional Secretary Health Mushtaq Soomro visited the protesting vaccinators and assured them that their demands have been accepted and a notification in this regard would be issued very soon,” Dr Sultan said.



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