Polio workers hold rally outside WHO Office in Islamabad

ISLAMABAD – A large number of polio workers from provinces on Tuesday staged a protest outside the World Health Organisation (WHO) Office on discontinuing their job contracts. 

The protesting polio workers held multiple rounds of talks with the WHO authorities but remained unsuccessful. They vowed to continue their protest and start hunger strike if their contracts were not renewed or given the acceptable financial package. 

Imdad Turi, representative of All Pakistan Union Council Polio Officer from tribal districts, said that polio workers faced serious threats during campaigns. 

He said that authorities instead of accommodating the polio staff were terminating them from jobs which would result in damaging the efforts to eradicate polio from the country. 

Salman Khan, another representative, said the polio staff had been terminated in an inappropriate way which would result in financial downfall of their families. He said the authorities should have come up with the alternative means of earning for the employees, as polio had not been eliminated from the country so far and it could emerge again. 

Earlier, the polio workers in an application written to the WHO Head Office Pakistan said, “We the UCPOs from all across Pakistan would like to seek your kind attention toward our issue of not granting extension in our contract resultantly half of the UCPOs were fired. The experience they gained during their tenure of employment will become useless.”

The application further states, “Despite all difficulties, we delivered our best in routine immunisation, outreach vaccination sessions, measles campaigns, AFP surveillance, polio vaccination monitoring, area in charge training facilitation, teams training facilitation, micro plan preparation help data and tally sheet analysis and social mobilisation. In spite of our core competencies we are being fired. 

By this way the programme will be badly impacted. Not only we fought against polio but we supported, assisted and facilitated the COVID-19 control team and played a vital role in creating awareness about the pandemic.”

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