ISLAMABAD: A special committee constituted on the special directives of Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani on Wednesday directed immediate release of salaries of Lady Health Workers (LHWs) and resolution of all outstanding issues.
Under the special directive of Prime Minister Gilani issued from South Korea, where he was attending the Nuclear Security Summit, a meeting was held here in the PM House with Minister for Religious Affairs Syed Khursheed Ahmad Shah in chair, to resolve the issues pertaining to the Lady Health Workers.
The meeting was also attended by Special Assistant to the Prime Minister Ms Shahnaz Wazir Ali, Principal Secretary to Prime Minister Mr Khushnood Akhtar Lashari, secretaries of the federal ministries concerned, chief secretaries of Punjab and Sindh and representatives of the provincial governments.
The meeting acknowledged the importance of Lady Health Workers in the Public Health Sector delivery system and appreciated their role in polio eradication in the country under the Extended Programme on Immunization.
It may be recalled that the Programme was launched by Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto in 1995 with 10,000 Lady Health Workers and their number has risen to almost 109,000.
The committee, in its meeting, deliberated in detail on all issues relating to the Lady Health Workers, including delayed payment of salaries, non-provision of medicines and medical kits and other logistic problems.
The committee formalized following decisions after a comprehensive discussion:
a) Directed the Secretary Planning Division to immediately release the salaries for all Lady Health Workers.
b) A committee has been constituted under the chairpersonship of Special Assistant to the Prime Minister Ms Shahnaz Wazir Ali to address all outstanding issues pertaining to Lady Health Workers.
The committee will include federal secretaries of Planning, Finance and Inter Provincial Coordination Divisions and secretaries of Health and Finance from the provincial governments.
This committee will finalize its recommendations within two weeks and submit them to the Prime Minister for his consideration and approval.
c) Taking note of delay in release of salaries to the Lady Health Workers by the Provincial Finance Departments, the committee directed that in future there should be no delay in disbursement of the salaries to Lady Health Workers.
It may be mentioned that under the 18th Amendment, the Lady Health Workers Programme is the responsibility of provincial governments as the subject has been devolved to the provinces. However, the Federal Government will continue to assist the provinces in the matter till the next N.F.C. Award.
Special Assistant to the Prime Minister Ms Shahnaz Wazir Ali stated that this is the largest programme in the Public Health Sector and its immense contributions in the social sector have been acknowledged by international Organizations.
She emphasized that the programme should not be shelved as it may have immense negative social implications as there is no alternate arrangement yet to replace this programme.