PESHAWAR: The appointment of Muslims as sweepers on political basis has been badly affecting cleanliness at the public sector hospitals of the province as most of them think it against their status to brush latrines, according to sources.
They said that cleanliness situation was better in the hospitals where Christians were recruited as sweepers because they had been doing the job since migration of their forefathers from Punjab more than 50 years ago.
“The hospitals are finding it hard to maintain cleanliness due to the recruitment of Muslims on the posts of sweepers by ministers and politicians. They don’t perform their duty,” sources said.
Recently, district health officers (DHO) and medical superintendents in a monthly meeting informed the provincial health secretary about the need for Christian sweepers for better cleanliness in the basic health units, dispensaries and district headquarters hospitals. They complained that Muslims were not fit for the posts of sweepers.
About 800 Christians work as sweepers at govt hospitals in KP
“The people, who are supposed to maintain cleanliness, have refused to work and the secretary has sought a detailed report on the issue from the DHOs,” said a senior doctor.
Sources said that the job was done in a befitting manner by Christian sweepers but during the last 20 years various governments appointed their own people on the posts reserved for minority. It deteriorated cleanliness condition at government hospitals, they added.
Sources said that most of the hospitals in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa were facing a daunting task to ensure cleanliness of toilets for patients but even those located in the wards and OPDs etc were in bad shape.
Shahid Ghauri, provincial vice president of Class-IV (minority) Employees Association, told Dawn that Christians faced plethora of problems as government appointed Muslim men and women as sweepers that affected their youths, who had no other job. Sikh and Hindu were also appointed as sweepers, he said.
Mr Ghauri said government reserved five per cent quota for Christian sweepers in promotion to the rank of clerk, lab technician and dispenser etc but they were never upgraded.
“We have appealed to the court in 2013 that the health department should be directed to give posts of sweepers only to the Christians. The directives were issued but politicians continued to defy the order and induct their own people, who weren’t ready to use brush in wards due to which their colleagues were burdened with work,” he added.
Sources said that about 800 Christians worked in government hospitals in the province.
Lady Reading Hospital has an estimated 180 Christians, Khyber Teaching Hospital 140 and Hayatabad Medical Complex has 125 Christians while districts of Charsadda, Mardan, Bannu, Kohat, Swat, Bannu and Dera Ismail Khan have five to 10 Christian sweepers because the posts were occupied by local people.
Sources said that other districts had few Christian sweepers owing to which in many health facilities tiled bathrooms and toilets were not functioning.
Of the total 2,718 sweepers in the province, 1,938 work in three teaching hospitals in Peshawar and one in Abbottabad while 780 are responsible for cleaning in health facilities in all districts.
Nabi Amin, provincial president of Class-IV Employees Association, told Dawn said that LRH terminated the services of Muslim sweepers, who were not performing their duty. “We want the Christians on the posts of sweepers in hospitals,” he said.
Mr Amin said that they faced crisis because Muslim sweepers either didn’t work or performed other duties like that of computer operators and technicians while the Christian sweepers endured the additional workload. “We want health professional allowance on pattern of doctors, nurses and paramedics for more than 17,000 Class-IV employees working in the province’s hospitals,” he added.
Published in Dawn, May 10th, 2016