KARACHI - Home-based women workers in Karachi were registered to be largely inflicted with joint and back pain along with serious eye conditions during a health camp organised by HomeNet Pakistan Karachi with the support of UN Women and Aurat Foundation. HomeNet coordinator for Karachi, Naheed Syed talking to APP Wednesday said occupational health and safety remain to be a core concern for the women HBWs whose work involve long hours sitting, insecure and hazardous workplace/environment and poor working conditions.

“In Pakistan women are highly employed in the informal sector of the economy and constitute 71.7% of the workforce and most of them are piece rate workers engaged in manufacturing and post-manufacturing tasks,” she said.

The day long camp held in Orangi Town was attended by a sizable number of women workers, aged between 25 years to 55 years, mainly involved in stitching, embroidery, candle making and other hand work.

More than 80% of these HBWs assessed by a team of doctors and underwent basic medical examinations (BMI/ B.P/ Blood Sugar/ Eye tests etc.) repeatedly complained of severe pain due to long working hours in a peculiar physical position.

Seventy percent of them reported with high blood pressure while 65% were overweight noticed to be significantly contributing to their joint pain.

“It is not only that long hour sitting may have led to pain but wrong choice of food, rich in fat content and comparatively low cost as compared to healthy food option have definitely aggravated the situation for them,” said Dr Samina Iqbal.

Actively involved in examining the women, the doctor warned that osteoporosis was also a serious health threat among many of these women largely unable to ensure proper intake of calcium and other essential nutrients.

“The camp did provide us an opportunity to educate these workers about cost effective food alternatives good for their health and also for their children,” said the doctor in reply to a question.

Reiterating need for such camps for women HBWs at regular interval, she said the women working for hours in inadequately lit dingy rooms were found to be exposed to steady decline in their visual capacities.

“We found that many of them were rarely conscious of the fact and bothered little to get their eyes examined and arrange powered glasses for them,” mentioned Dr Iqbal.

To another query, she said besides weak eye sight many of the women were found to be repeatedly suffering from eye infections, of one or the other form.