Vaccinators call off sit-in after health dept accepts their demands

July 15, 2020

Vaccinators from all 29 districts of Sindh called off their sit-in outside the Karachi Press Club on Tuesday after the health department accepted all their demands.The officials assured the...

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Vaccinators from all 29 districts of Sindh called off their sit-in outside the Karachi Press Club on Tuesday after the health department accepted all their demands.

The officials assured the protesters of appointing 58 Gavi vaccinators on contractual basis, disbursing salaries to the newly appointed vaccinators and upgrading their service structure in line with Punjab’s.

Expanded Programme on Immunisation (EPI) Project Director Dr Akram Sultan arrived at the protest camp in the evening and handed over the notification of appointing 58 vaccinators, the letters of issuing salaries to hundreds of vaccinators and a copy of the summary sent to the finance department to upgrade the service structure of Sindh’s vaccinators.

“They called off their protest and vowed to resume working at vaccination centres throughout the province from Wednesday [today] after all their demands were met. I negotiated with the health department on the protesters’ behalf”, said Dr Sultan.

Some 300 vaccination centres remained closed across the province on Monday and Tuesday as hundreds of vaccinators from various districts held a protest in a bid to pressurise the government into accepting their demands.

The protesting vaccinators had been demanding the regularisation of their jobs, the payment of their salaries and an upgrade in their service structure in line with the one implemented in the other provinces.

Sindh has already been dealing with outbreaks of measles, diphtheria and XDR typhoid since the start of the year as EPI centres were closed soon after COVID-19 cases started being reported in the province and parents started showing reluctance to taking their children to the vaccination centres due to the fear of catching the contagious disease.

Hundreds of protesting vaccinators shouted slogans for their demands the entire day, saying that all the vaccination centres would remain closed until their demands were met. After their demands were accepted, they shouted slogans for Dr Sultan for his efforts.

The EPI official said that hundreds of vaccinators have been facing financial problems and finding it difficult to concentrate on their work, especially during this pandemic, adding that due to demoralisation, vaccination in the province has also been suffering.

“Now that their issues have been resolved, they have vowed to work with dedication and vaccinate children in the areas where normally access is difficult,” he said, hoping that the vaccination ratio, which had dropped due to lockdown and other COVID-19 issues, would start improving.

When health department officials had arrived at the protest camp, the vaccinators greeted them with garlands and shouted slogans for them after the officials assured the protesters that their demands had been met. A team of vaccinators had earlier held detailed negotiations with Health Secretary Dr Kazim Jatoi at his office and convinced him to issue the notifications because without them they would not be able to persuade their colleagues to call off the protest.

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