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Editorial

February 10, 2017

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Nurses on strike

Nurses on strike

The strike by nurses across Karachi has for obvious reasons been a hindrance to care in outpatient departments and other hospital areas outside wards. Hospital officials at three major government hospitals in Sindh have been quick to blame nurses for the situation. Nurses after all form the backbone of hospitals which can simply not run without their services. But is the strike something that can truly be blamed on the nurses or should the Sindh government and its health ministry take some responsibility? For several weeks nurses who have united under the Joint Nurses Action Committee have been warning that they will stage a strike unless their demands are met. The crux of these demands lies in the problem of the extremely low stipend paid to nurses in Sindh compared to the other provinces. The nurses have pointed out that while in KP a sum of Rs20,000 is given and in the Punjab Rs15,000 in Sindh the stipend has remained stagnant at Rs6,800 for years. This measly sum is also below the minimum wage set by the government while nurses in the province also complain they are denied other perks and privileges. They have also pointed out that 477 nurses who had passed the Sindh Public Services examination had not been given employment by the health ministry. Bizarrely enough, amidst this crisis the health minister himself has remained missing from the scene for weeks.

For the sake of patients and of course for the sake of the nurses themselves the problem needs to be resolved. It is unforgiveable that the provincial government has paid such little heed to a crisis that has been looming for a very long time. Nurses perform an essential service in our society. Despite this, their work is often looked down upon and even student nurses do not get the rights due to them in terms of assistance in training and rights to housing, transport and other facilities. Certainly, this group – which perhaps carries out the brunt of the work in hospitals – and the medical profession deserve better treatment. The PPP government which claims to protect the weak and deprived must address the matter with urgency. Quite obviously, the nurses in Sindh deserve to be paid on the same scale as their counterparts in other provinces. The fact that this is not happening is an outrage.

 

 

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