Blood screening of all the 1435 sanitary workers of Multan Waste Management Company (MWMC) and Municipal Corporation Multan (MCM), performing duty in 68 urban union councils of the city, has found 581 of them suffering from life threatening diseases.
Sources privy to the department said that the report showed 300 sanitary workers tested positive for hepatitis-C, 275 tested positive for Tuberculosis (TB) and six others as HIV/AIDS positive.
Moreover, most of the 1435 sanitary workers were of the age of 50 plus. Official sources said that sanitary workers should follow Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) while at work to avoid chances of diseases.
When contacted, Manager Operations MWMC Usman Khursheed, confirmed the report. He, however, added that most of the sanitary workers do not want to use gloves, masks and other safety tools citing reasons that these cause hurdle in their work. “We had provided them with gloves and masks on the occasion of last Eidul Adha but most of them refused citing reasons that they feel trouble in breathing with masks on and feel difficulty in collecting trash with gloves on their hands.”
He added that most of the sanitary workers were illiterate and needed advocacy exercise to convince them to use safety articles. They were even reluctant to undergo blood screening and had to be forced to give blood samples.
He said that the blood screening of sanitary workers was conducted on the instructions of Punjab local government department. He added that the ailing workers have been issued cards for their free treatment from government hospitals.
He said that MWMC had also got workers vaccinated against influenza few weeks back. MWMC has proposed allocation of funds for procurement of gloves, shoes, surgical masks and summer uniforms in the budget 2018-19.
Chief executive of (CBA) Ghazi Union Abdul Shakoor Bhutta who is also the sanitation officer of MWMC said that the union had been asking the high ups to provide them safety articles so that workers could be safe from diseases adding that workers also collect waste from hospital and clinics in addition to other places in their respective areas.