LAHORE – Hundreds of Lady Health Workers on Saturday staged a protest demonstration at Bagh-e-Jinnah and later staged a sit-in in front of the Governor’s House for the release of their four moths’ salaries.
While they fought with police to break barricades to reach inside the Governor’s House, about a half dozen of them fainted. The Police resorted to baton charge resulting into injuries to several protesters. The injured LHWs were rushed to a nearby hospital where rumours were abuzz that one of them had died. This added more fuel to the fire.
The LHWs’ sit-in outside Governor’s House caused massive traffic jam on The Mall and the adjoining areas for several hours. Taking notice of the police torture, Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif sought report from the Health Secretary Health and directed him to resolve the issue. According to HS Mohammad Jehanzeb Khan’s office, after successful hours’ negotiations they called off their protest. He also directed immediate release of two months’ salaries for the LHWs and Lady Health Supervisors performing duty in Lahore, while one month’s salary to those in other districts.
A representative delegation of LHWs called on Secretary Health in presence of Parliamentary Secretary Health Dr Saeed Elahi and MPA Kh Salman Rafiq and apprised him of their problems. Special Secretary Health Dawood Muhammad Bareach, Director General Health Punjab Dr Aslam Ch and Provincial Coordinator on Primary Healthcare Dr Akhtar Rashid Malik were also present.
Dr Akhtar Rashid informed that federal government has released funds with delay and less than the required amount due to which difficulties are being faced in the payment of salaries to the LHWs. On the occasion, it was decided that Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif will be requested for providing fund for the payment of arrears of the salaries of LHWs so that they could be provided salaries till the receipt of grant by federal government.
Dr Saeed Elahi assured the delegation that in order to make future of LHWs and LHSs safer and benefit from their capabilities, maximum workers would be included in dengue control programme evolved under long term policy for controlling the menace. He directed Health Department to appoint an officer of Deputy Secretary level as focal person and constitute a committee for resolving their problems.
Kh Salman Rafiq said that interim arrangements would have to be made for the payment of salaries of LHWs till next NFC Award. He said that government has great respect for the LHWs and efforts would be made for resolving their problems in this regard.
The Health Secretary while assuring the delegation to resolve their problems said that services of LHWs were of paramount importance for public awareness regarding diseases, conveying the message of hygiene condition to every house especially public awareness campaign against dengue. He directed Provincial Coordinator to prepare new PC-1 for solving problems of the LHWs. On this occasion, the delegation announced to end their protest, upon which Dr Saeed Elahi lauded the spirit of service of LHWs and thanked them on behalf of the Chief Minister.