KP has no money to pay lady health workers -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

KP has no money to pay lady health workers

Ashfaq Yusufzai

PESHAWAR: The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa health department is facing difficulty in paying salaries to lady health workers after the devolution of powers under the 18th Amendment, according to officials.

“After passage of 18th Amendment, the lady health workers (LHWs) programme has been devolved to the province that is not able to bear the annual cost of Rs2.15 billion, which worries the provincial health department,” officials said.

According to them, the federal government started the programme in 2005 and appointed more than 100,000 LHWs in all the provinces to involve them in door-to-door anti-polio campaigns, distribute oral re-hydration salt (ORS) among the vulnerable population besides utilising their services during natural calamities.

The LHWs programme worked under the defunct federal ministry of health, which also released funds to all the provinces for the salaries of the staff, medicines and logistics, officials said. They said that the programme also aimed at motivating women for use of contraceptive and creating awareness about the problems of pregnant women.

“After devolution, the ministry of health doesn’t exist owing to which Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has been facing problem in paying salaries to about 18,000 LHWs in different districts of the province,” they added.

Though the federal government had pledged that it would continue to fund the programme till 2014, yet the funds were being provided on quarterly basis which caused barrage of protests by LHWs, they said. “The delayed salaries have also prompted LHWs to boycott the polio campaigns in the province,” they said. The LHWs boycotted the three-day anti-polio vaccination campaign on October 25 and demanded of the government to pay them salaries.

In the process, the provincial health department issued show cause notices to 500 LHWs and terminated the services of 112 others. “About 38 LHWs resigned owing to non-payment of salaries,” the officials said.

They said that the province required Rs502 million for every three months to pay the salaries of staff and buy medicines etc.

The delayed release of the funds by the federal government was resulting in protests by the staff.

“During the current quarter of the year, the centre has released only Rs104 million owing to which the salaries of all the staff could not be paid. Not only the centre but the World Health Organisation, which pledged to supplement the funding, has also not released the funds for the last few months,” they said.

The officials said that restructuring of the health department was in progress to resolve the problems created by devolution of about 10 programmes previously run by the federal government. They said that after 2014, the provincial health department would be required to bear the full expenses of the devolved programme, which was Rs8 billion per year.

Currently, the total budget of the health department was Rs8 billion and it was not possible for the province to run all the programmes, initiated by the centre, from its own resources, they added.

“We have started serious brainstorming to seek a durable solution to run the LHWs programme on regular basis. Given the surge in polio cases, we need the programme,” said a senior health official. He said that the province would soon contact the federal government to make elaborate arrangements for the salaries of LHWs.
Source: Dawn