PESHAWAR - Technician staff of the Expanded Program on Immunization (EPI) in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa have threatened to boycott the upcoming anti-polio drive and other vaccination campaign if their salaries were not released.

While speaking during a news conference at press club here on Monday, Irfanullah President, All EPI/Gavi Employees Association, said that despite the directives of PTI Chief Imran Khan, provincial health department failed to release the salaries to more than 272 EPI technicians of Gavi (Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization), withheld for the last seven months. He also said that it was principally agreed to ensure disbursement of salaries to EPI staff by March 25, and consider regularization of their services in last meeting held with PTI central leadership, but payment of salaries was yet to ensure.

Flanked by the Association Chairman Malik Qamar, vice president Asfandyar, and Sarfaz Durrani, Imran Shah and others, Irfan lamented that provincial government and health authorities weren't paying heed towards the demand of regularization of service. He said that the GAVI project will be closed by end of June this year, therefore, he criticized the provincial government was using delaying tactics towards acceptance of their demands.

For the last four months, the association president also complained that the health authorities didn't payout honorarium to EPI technicians for performing duties during special polio eradication campaign in the province. He also raised the issue of deduction in salaries and other problems, being faced by health workers.

"We demand early payment of seven-month pending salaries and regularization of services without any further delay", Infranullah said. He asked the provincial government and health authorities to stop using deceiving tactics with EPI employees, and should take resolve their issues on priority basis.

Durrani said that the EPI employees have continued their duties during anti-polio drive despite security challenges and receiving threats letters by the militant groups. He claimed that more than 5,000 positions of health technicians were vacant in provincial health department, which needed to be filled by regularization of their services.

Irfan said that EPI technicians will again hold protest outside Pakistan Tehreek-i-Isaf Chief Imran Khan residence in Bani gala Islamabad, if the payment along with regularization notification was not issued till Friday next (April-10). They warned to hold protest outside PTI chief residence in Islamabad, if payment of their salaries were not ensured, along with regularization of services within next four-days.