In 2014, Shehbaz Sharif government launched a monitoring project for better health facilities across Punjab. We, the 171 Retired Junior Commissioned Officers, from Defence Forces, were recruited as Monitoring and Evaluation Assistants (MEAs) by Policy & Strategic Planning Unit (PSPU) Lahore. These responsible employees performed well and ground realities were reported in real time to the higher ups of the Health Department and the Chief Minister.

Data collection helps policymakers better solve health issues. This improves the functionality of the health department to the standard it should be, especially in remote villages. Infrastructure was improved; ghost employees lost their fortresses, attendance quality improved to the perfection extent. Today, Basic Health Units across Punjab are having almost 100% of doctors posted and they have made sure their presence at 8 o’clock in the morning. The supply of medicines has been surprisingly improved.

Besides jobs, we MEAs have been monitoring these facilities for the welfare of the masses in extremely uneven situations like rains, hot/cold weather conditions and muddy roads. We are contract employees and our contract ended on February 12, 2019. The documents for renewal have been timely submitted to PSPU. Unfortunately, due to uncertain reasons, these contracts could not be renewed and consequently, our salary has been stopped since February 13, 2019. We have been working without salary for the last 5 months.

The holy month of Ramazan has started but we are without salary. There will no cash in our pockets on Eid. The MEAs want to work continuously but increased inflation has stopped our livings. Money is a fundamental requirement and life remains uncomfortable in its absence.

There was no increase in our salary for the last 4 years, allowances and fuel allowance. The petrol, which was 60/65 rupees per litre four years ago, has reached 110 rupees per litre. In this regard, our demands were pending since long, but the stoppage of salary has created hardship for us and for our families.

We have apologised from 6th of instant as we have no money even for Bikes’ fuel. This break will definitely reduce the quality of public service. We appeal to the Chief Minister and the Minister of Health to look into our crises and matter should be seen fairly on priority.

ABDUL ALEEM QAMAR,

Kasur, May 10.