A health worker gives polio vaccine drops to a child at a colony in Islamabad, Dec 20, 2012. — Photo by Reuters

ISLAMABAD, Jan 20: Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf has approved regularisation of service of 105,086 lady health workers (LHWs), including their support staff, with effect from July 1 last year.

He also approved the concurrence of the federal government to reimburse the entire financial impact of the measure, including arrears, to the provinces. He agreed to a proposal to put the issue of federal financing of the program beyond 2015 before the forthcoming meeting of the Council of Common Interests for consideration and possible approval at the next meeting of the National Finance Commission.

The prime minister also approved the financing of pensioners’ liabilities up to the period of financing by the federal government. However, provincial governments will pay pension or institute contributory pension funds from their own resources for regular employees as per their laws and rules.

The lady health workers had been demanding regularisation of their service for over three years and held a number of demonstrations in Islamabad for the purpose.

On Match 26 last year, Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry took suo motu notice of the issue and directed the government to regularise the service of the LHWs, but this could not be done then.

On April 18 last year, some health workers tried to set themselves on fire and one male worker suffered burn injuries in the act. On Dec 22, the LHWs held a rally outside the Parliament House and Supreme Court building and even tried to enter the Prime Minister’s Secretariat. They were stopped from entering the secretariat and promised that a meeting of the LHWs would be arranged with the prime minister. The meeting was held on January 3 and the prime minister promised to regularise their service.

Sajida Hameed, a representative of the LHWs, praised the government decision and said: “The program was initiated by former prime minister Benazir Bhutto and now her party’s government has regularised us which is remarkable. The prime minister has announced that salary of the LHWs will be paid by the federal government till 2017. So we see no confusion in it,” she said.

APP adds: The provincial governments had been reluctant to regularise the service of the LHWs primarily due to the involvement of huge financial cost.

Prime Minister Ashraf praised the role of the LHWs and said their regularisation would have a strategic impact on the outreach of the health programs.

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