Sight Unseen: A vision for effective access to COVID-19 vaccines for daily wage labourers

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Volunteers of the Pakistan Red Crescent are on the frontline of the fight against COVID-19 and working at the heart of communities across Pakistan. From providing ambulance services and health care to emergency food supplies and cash grants, the Sindh Branch of Pakistan Red Crescent is performing a significant role in the global battle against the virus. PRC-Sindh is the only provincial branch of the Pakistan Red Crescent that launched the free COVID-19 test facility in 2020 and handed over PPE kits to government hospitals in Sindh and PRC provincial branches across Pakistan.

These efforts were further strengthened when the government asked welfare and humanitarian organizations to help the government, the health department, and the National Command Operation Centre (NCOC) to provide vaccinations to the public. As always, maintaining its tradition, the Sindh branch of the Pakistan Red Crescent, as the first humanitarian organization in Sindh, launched mobile vaccination units for COVID-19 in Karachi in collaboration with the Sindh Health Department. In addition to the campaign and incentivizing the general public to vaccinate, since June 2021, PRC-Sindh Mobile Units have vaccinated more than 19,500 people, including 14,500 men and 5,000 women.

In this journey to fight against COVID-19, PRC-Sindh could enunciate many success stories from the daily field. However, PRC-Sindh presents a success story incorporating the experience of providing COVID-19 vaccination to daily-wage poor labourers working in a textile factory.

When PRC-Sindh launched its mobile vaccination units at “Dolmen Mall and Lucky One Mall”, thousands of staff and workers were vaccinated. This move encouraged the Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) to request a mobile vaccination unit be deployed on its premises by PRC-Sindh. After experiencing a professional team of volunteers and proper setup, many company owners and top management approached PRC-Sindh and requested mobile vaccination units in their factories. Various sectors such as pharmaceuticals, textiles, and banking were considered for the deployment of mobile vaccination units in this respect. The PRC-Sindh deployed one of its experienced team in Artistic Fabrics, a textile factory in Korangi Industrial Area, Karachi, to provide vaccination to its staff and workers.

While receiving COVID-19 vaccination, a factory worker named Qurban Ali told a Red Crescent volunteer that the factory’s upper management has mandated that all workers should be vaccinated with COVID-19 vaccine, but the majority of them are on daily wages and work in the day and night shifts, making it impossible for them to be absent from duty. “PRC-Sindh is a true humanitarian organisation that has built an elite-class facility and ensured the comfort of the low-wage factory labourers by giving vaccination at their doorstep,” Ali complimented.

An elderly worker said he was told that government vaccination centres, such as the Expo Centre, were overcrowded. Therefore, many others like him were reluctant to go to crowded places and were afraid of being infected before getting vaccinated. He thanked Red Crescent for making the vaccine process so easy and comfortable for poor labourers.

Another worker, Asadullah Khan, introduced himself as a shift supervisor and stated that he, along with many others, was fearful of the COVID-19 vaccination due to false rumours. He said that a relative who works as a security guard at Lucky One Mall informed him that he had been vaccinated by the Red Crescent Mobile Vaccination Unit and was quite impressed by PRC-Sindh for offering the service in the case of an emergency following vaccination. His words and comments instilled in him a sense of faith in the Red Crescent and vaccination, he continued. “Now, I would strongly advise my family, relatives, and friends to be vaccinated since it is absolutely safe,” Khan stated. He said that vaccination is now essential for everyone since it strengthens the immune system to resist the coronavirus.

Muhammad Ibrahim, Senior Manager in Accounts Department, commended the PRC-Sindh volunteers for risking their lives and carrying out their responsibilities with courage and volunteerism. “I want to greet the families, especially the parents, whose children are serving the public in high-risk situations,” Ibrahim said enthusiastically.

When the Safety and Security Officer of the factory received IEC materials and brochures regarding the activities of the Pakistan Red Crescent, he said that he was previously unaware of the Red Crescent’s extensive humanitarian efforts. He added that he would request PRC-Sindh to provide emergency first aid training to its factory workers.

Dr. Hameed, Team Leader, PRC-Sindh Mobile Vaccination Unit, stationed at Artistic Fabrics, stated the positive comments, praises, and appreciation for the Red Crescent’s efforts and activities from these workers and staff significantly inspired and motivated the volunteers.

Like these workers, many are others praying for the success of the Red Cross Red Crescent and are hoping that the organization will always be ready to help those in need around the world. Therefore, the management has determined that the Pakistan Red Crescent would continue its best efforts until COVID-19 was completely eradicated from Pakistan.

 

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