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Life of an Ordinary Polio Worker

Rehaan Dashti

It is said that U.N is the biggest champion of labor rights in the world and working in order to ameliorate the living conditions of labor force by announcing universal charter which is appreciated by every quarter. It is disappointing that despite various conferences and protocols there have been no practical and concrete steps taken by the champions to improve the life standards of destitute workers under the canopy of UN sub organizations.

The polio workers in war zones are confronting numerous issues ranging from daily wages to scourge of terrorism. Up till now, hundreds of poor polio workers fallen a prey to bloody terrorism, constructed rogue myths and extremism in Balochistan, Karachi, and FATA and in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP). Moreover, some of the reasons which are affecting the eradication of polio are political instability and unrest, unsatisfactory health infrastructure, and government negligence. It is deplorable that the so called INGOs, Government of Pakistan and the UN (WHO) have been failed to protect and compensate them. The first priority of these organizations and institutions should be the protection of workers rather than wasting billions on upper class officers and management and their luxuries. It’s the blatant violation of human rights laws by the champions of eradicator of epidemic disease like polio. Seemingly, the efforts made by WHO are futile because it is equally involved in killing the workers financially, socially and bringing them at the loggerheads with the conservative societal norms. It is tantamount to say that in any organization all the low and higher rank worker need equal treatment and remuneration according to international standard and nature of their work.

The situation whether it is in the realm of security and safety or remunerations is appalling and the worst injustice being done to the risky polio workers. A daily wager working for WHO in Pakistan gets five hundred a day who consumes all his day to serve the human beings. It’s against the wages recommended by ILO which is working for the labor and proletariat class. Contrary to this the high top-notch management living in air conditioned vehicles’ and rooms gets the major chunk of budget which is allotted for the elimination of deadly epidemic and endemic diseases. A daily wager working for UN WHO goes house to house with the box of vaccine confronts worst kinds of humiliation and untold dangers but despite these conservative traits they risk their life not for few money but to serve the fellow human being. In WHO Quetta and in FATA, officers working or supervising are getting millions for themselves while depriving the rank and file who are practically involved to assist them in materializing their intention. The basic needs of workers must be fulfilled before launching such billion dollars programs.

Currently seventeen hundred workers working in critical war zones areas under the mercy of God as the INGOS and the WHO are only limited to get more finance from international donors in order to materialize their own personal or organization interests rather the workers and the their true aim. The mission head in Quetta is receiving in millions which is hundred times higher than those practically involve in this program of eradication. An ordinary supervisor of lower rank in WHO is getting more, than all the toll daily wager in WHO which is beyond the comprehension of an ordinary educated and an humanist.  But, officers at the helm of affairs are putting no heed to this problem.  Moreover, no one can deny the fact that WHO is promoting cronyism, favoritism and nepotism in selecting the candidates. Presently, all the incompetent doctors and the management are involved in this zero sum game.  Apparently, WHO is active in various part of Pakistan to eradicate polio virus but unless and until various problems are resolved their mission would be futile and aimless.

This war is not only against the eradication of polio out and out but this war has to be fought on various fronts. This war should not be limited to the appreciation of World Bank and other donors but this appreciation should be from the poor daily workers for polio elimination and the society and large. Majority of workers are females and they are bearing the brunt of conservative taboos and narratives equally along with the exploitations by the WHO in Pakistan. The policies of UNO are conflicting on various fronts on one end they are working to end women relegation and on the other end workers working for the UNO agencies are being exploited financially which might end many woes of women if fully supported. It is the sole responsibility of government to check the criteria of working of many INGOS and to ensure international standard of recruitment and wages. WHO should revise and reconsider its violent and unjust attitude towards daily wagers. If the poor workers are financially supported according the criteria of ILO and domestic labor laws undoubtedly many of their problems would be solved. It’s not only war against polio but alleviation of poverty and a step towards ending unemployment. To be sure that the success of any program is not conditioned with the remuneration and bullet proof vehicles under utility but the promotion of equality and humanism.

Published in The Balochistan Point on January 23, 2016

Disclaimer: Views expressed in this article are those of the author and The Balochistan Point not necessarily agrees with them.

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