The delay in paying wages reflects the lack of seriousness on the part of the provincial government
Delay in paying wages of polio workers has been a recurrent issue in the country. It has reared its head again in Balochistan, with polio health workers voicing complaints that their salaries for the past month remain unpaid. This comes despite assurances from the Balochistan chief secretary during the last polio drive in Quetta in September that wages would be paid on time. Unfortunately for the workers, however, this could not even materialise in the month the promise was made. The delay in paying wages reflects the lack of seriousness on the part of the provincial government. While Pakistan may have come a long way in its fight against polio from the dreary days of 2014 when 214 cases were reported, to 2015 when only 34 have so far been recorded, we still cannot afford to show any complacency. Even one child crippled for life at the hands of a disease that is preventable is one child too many. Successes with respect to polio eradication will only be worth celebrating when Pakistan becomes completely polio-free — and it will be impossible to achieve this goal without the efforts of polio health workers.
Balochistan continues to tread on dangerous waters with six cases having been reported in the province so far this year. Yet, we continue to be confronted with such basic issues like the lack of timely salary payment for the frontline warriors in the war against polio. Polio health workers regularly put their lives at risk when they venture on vaccination campaigns. Many have lost their lives to terrorists, all in exchange for the pittance they are paid by governments, and even that sees inordinate delays. If this state of affairs continues, there will be few willing to take up a job that comes with a high security risk. Most people working for vaccination campaigns mainly do so because of dire financial needs. The authorities must stop exploiting their financial circumstances in this shameful manner. These workers need more than just security; they need proper recognition, acknowledgement and compensation for their heroic work. Incompetence of government officials should not result in destruction of our children’s future.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 6th, 2015.
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