Hard Area Allowance for Sindh, Punjab, and Balochistan

Last week Sindh Government has approved the issuance of Hard Area Allowances for the employees of the Health Department of district Tharparkar. This step of Sindh Government is appreciable. The less privileged district will attract the highly qualified doctors, nurses and paramedical staff to work in the health care facilities of the district. However, Hard Area Allowance in other districts of Sindh, Punjab, and Balochistan is also required.

Hard Area Allowance

Owing to the lack of basic facilities and career growth opportunities in the remote areas,  health care providers are usually reluctant to work there. They usually prefer urban areas where they will have more incentives. Hard Area Allowance is usually given to the employees who are willing to work in the remote under-developed areas. District Tharparkar, also known as Thar, is a drought affected desert area in the Sindh province.

The government of Sindh has recently approved Hard Area Allowance for the health employees of the district. The allowance will be admissible as follows:

  1. BPS-01 to BPS-11          10,000
  2. BPS-12 to BPS-16         20,000
  3. BPS-17                                90,000
  4. BPS-18 and above         140,000

Sindh Government Notification Mentioning Hard Area Allowance on Grade-wise Basis. Hard Area Allowance in Sindh, Punjab, and Balochistan is also required.
Sindh Government Notification Mentioning Hard Area Allowance on Grade-wise Basis. Image courtesy: Imamdin Rind

The issue

Without having any detailed information about the structure and the status of the health care delivery system of the district Tharparkar, one would be astonished to see this notification. It’s hard to believe, but the notification shows that there only two officers in BPS-17 in the whole district. Furthermore, there is only one officer in BPS-18 or above.

Only two officers in BPS-17 and one in BPS-18 and above
Only two officers in BPS-17 and one in BPS-18 and above

This is a reflection of the state of health care facilities of not only this district, but other surrounding districts as well. How would the situation be different in a few kilometres away neighbouring district?

The remote areas of district Umerkot, Sanghar, and Khairpur etc are also suffering from the similar issues. Moreover, Southern Punjab districts and the remote areas of the Balochistan province are also deficient in health care workforce. Providing thsese sort of allowances only in one districts would not solve the chronic shortage of skilled health care workforce.

The Solution

Somehow, the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK) province has the solution to this problem.  The present KPK government has categorised the province into the categories A, B, and C.  The government is providing most incentives to the physicians and surgeons serving in the least developed remote areas.

However, the government is under criticism for not offering these incentives to the other health care providers. Therefore, there is a dire need to categorize the districts of Sindh, Punjab, and Balochistan with the appoach that KPK governmnt is using.

However, these incentives should not be limited to physicians and surgeons only.  Because, we not only need skillful physicians and surgeons but also nurses, paramedics, and suppoting staff. Therefore, a Hard Area Allowance for all health professonals in all under-privileged areas is demanded.