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Over 11,000 health care workers fired due to funding constraints in Pakistan

LAHORE: At least 11,000 health care workers of Pakistan’s anti-polio campaign, who were also mobilized to fight the coronavirus, have lost their jobs since June due to the restructuring and funding cuts of the anti-polio program, Dr. Rana Muhammad Safdar, coordinator for the country’s National Emergency Operation Center for polio eradication told to media.

Majority of those laid off are women who were performing their duties in the provinces of Sindh and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

The two federating units have also witnessed maximum number of polio cases this year and host the “core reservoirs” of the polio virus, Safdar added.

So far, Pakistan has reported 64 poliovirus cases this year, with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa recording the highest number (22) followed by Sindh (21).

The decision to reduce the polio staff was made late last year, he continued. During a review in Islamabad, attended by the former special assistant to prime minister on health, Dr. Zafar Mirza, it was decided to change the approach of the campaign and the working modalities of the on-ground teams.

Earlier, health care workers would be employed for the entire month and paid up to Rs. 25,000.

“The nature of employment is now changed,” Safdar explained. Under new rules, lady health care workers are only hired for 10 days in parts of Sindh and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, and paid a daily amount, rather than for the whole month.

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