Negotiations between LHW, govt officials fail to make headway Lady Health Workers protest enters decisive phase, to march on Parliament today

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Zubair Qureshi

After talks between the Lady Health Workers (LHW) and the officials of the Ministry of National Health Service and the Punjab Health Department failed to reach some conclusion, the protesting LHW who have been camped at D-Chowk for the last five days are all poised to march towards the Parliament House today (Monday)
A day earlier negotiations with the federal government, during which they stayed in the Ministry of National Health Services (NHS) for six hours and allegedly even faced abusive language, protesting lady health workers (LHW) announced that they would try to enter the Parliament House during the parliamentary session tomorrow (Monday).
While talking to Pakistan Observer, LHW President Ruksana Anwar said the government was not ready to listen to their grievances; they were left with little option but to march towards the Parliament House that is meeting on Monday.
Meanwhile, the NHS ministry has argued that the federal government has nothing to do with LHWs because, following the 18th Amendment, they are now dealt with by provincial governments.
These protesters have continued to face difficulties as their protest continued for the 6th day, as they have not been provided sanitation, water or food facilities.
On Saturday morning, the workers were invited to the Ministry of NHS at 12:30pm for negotiations with Punjab Health Secretary Ajmal Bhatti.
It was told in the media that negotiations continued for six hours but LHW president told the press later that not only did the negotiations fail, but the women were also harassed and threatened by ministry officers.
She said it seemed as if officers who habitually misbehave with women were sent for the dialogue with them. “Moreover, every night, some men are sent to the location of the sit-in and harass the women. Now we have been left with no choice but to go to parliament, so we have decided to enter parliament on Monday as a session is going to be held,” she said.
During the negotiations, Ms Anwar said, ministry officers told the LHWs that they had no proof that they were LHWs.
“However, we told them that we have show-cause notices which should be considered as proof that we are LHWs. Then we were told that the Punjab health secretary did not have a mandate to make any promises. We had a 10 point agenda but they said that they cannot guarantee even a single point in writing,” she said.

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