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Monday Mar 30 2020

Sanitary workers at high risk in wake of coronavirus outbreak

Photo: File

ISLAMABAD: The Interfaith League against Poverty (ILAP) has raised serious concern over the exposure of sanitary workers, not only in Islamabad but all over Pakistan, to the dangerous outbreak of ‘coronavirus’ in the country, reported The News on Monday.

ILAP Chairman Sajid Ishaq said that the recent incident of ‘Rimsha Colony’ in Islamabad should be enough to draw authorities’ attention towards health hazards these sanitary workers are facing.

“Not only has the cleanliness and hygiene conditions in these colonies been far below any prescribed levels of living but the fact that a vast majority of them are engaged in sanitation departments all over the country, exposes them to illness, epidemics and pandemics far more than any other segment of the society,” Ishaq said.

Read also: PMA demands govt immediately provide protective gear to healthcare professionals

“Besides working in the sanitation departments all over the country, these poor Christians are employed in almost all the hospitals all over the country as janitors and sanitary workers, where they are responsible to maintain cleanliness, and dispose of hazardous waste of all type almost always without any protective gear,” the ILAP chairman pointed out.

He said that these sanitary workers, especially those working in the hospitals, were more exposed to the threat of contracting the virus then the doctors and other staff because they did not have the proper gear to wear while performing their duties.

Ishaq added that only in the Capital Development Authority (CDA) there were over 1,500 sanitary workers and there are at least five major shanty settlements (kachi abadis) of the Christian community in sectors F-6, G-6, G-7, G-8 and H-9. A large number of the inhabitants of these ‘kachi abadis’ who were either employed as sanitary workers with the CDA or in the government or private hospitals and offices, both public as well as private all over the city.

Anyone of them catching the virus would prove to be a disaster for these communities because these are very congested settlements and sanitary and hygiene conditions have always been very bad.

He urged the government; federal as well as provincial, to immediately take note of the situation and provide protective gear and equipment to the sanitary workers, especially to those who were working alongside the doctors, nurses and paramedical staff in the hospitals.

Originally published in The News