The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government on Monday increased the salaries of polio workers by up to 25 per cent in a development that is set to benefit as many as 100,000 personnel.
In an interview with local media, Head of the National Emergency Operation Centre for Polio Dr Rana Safdar said, “The Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (ECNEC) has decided to increase the daily allowance from Rs400 to Rs500 (by Rs100) in general areas, whereas in hard areas the daily allowance has been increased from Rs750 to Rs850.”
He explained that ‘hard areas’ refers to the mountainous regions of Balochistan and tribal districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Northern KP, where polio workers have to travel over a dozen kilometres on foot.
“We had submitted a PC-I in the ECNEC, chaired by Minister of Finance Asad Umar, and it was approved,” Dr Safdar said, adding that the raise would encourage polio workers and boost their morale.
In addition to terrain-related accessibility issues, polio workers in Pakistan also have to brave threats posed by hostile elements during their anti-polio campaigns.
As per the Emergency Operation Centre’s data, 79 incidents — pertaining mostly to threats, intimidation and harassment — were reported by health workers in Balochistan alone during 2018.
Of these, 10 resulted in injuries to workers, with one incident of fatality reported in January 2018, where a community health worker along with her daughter was shot dead during the anti-polio campaign in Quetta.
A recent video released by Pak Fights Video, the official Twitter account of the Pakistan Polio Eradication Initiative, showed polio teams travelling through snow-covered areas to provide vaccines in the northern areas.
Polio teams work through out the year to protect your child against polio and it is to their tireless efforts and unmatched dedication to which we owe our progress. Thank you to our heroes – our polio workers. #endpolio pic.twitter.com/0dYZtUz9dr
— Pak Fights Polio (@PakFightsPolio) January 26, 2019
“Polio workers work throughout the year to protect your child against polio and it is to their tireless efforts and unmatched dedication to which we owe our progress. Thank you to our heroes – our polio workers,” the post caption read.