The 2,500 community health workers, who help the civic body check the spread of malaria, may now stop performing one of their more important duties as they feel they are not being paid enough.
One of the tasks arogyasevikas perform to fight malaria is spraying insecticide in slum dwellings. This stops the growth of larvae and checks the spread of the disease. They have been doing this for the past three years.
According to the representative body of arogyasevikas, the Municipal Nursing and Paramedics staff union, the workers have not been paid for this work throughout the three years they have been doing it.
The health workers usually concentrate on slums and bastis, which do not have a 24-hour water supply. Water is hence stored in large drums and buckets, creating breeding grounds for mosquitoes. The civic body has even roped in a private contractor for the same job at the rate of Rs 250 per day per labourer.
“The civic body gives these health workers an honorarium of Rs4,000 a month for four hours of work daily. The workers should be paid more for the extra work of malaria control,” said Trishila Kamble, secretary, MNPSU, who visited additional municipal commissioner Manisha Mhaiskar on the same issue on Thursday.
Apart from malaria control, the duties of these workers include identifying TB patients, carrying out the anti-polio campaign, keeping a record of pregnant women, and keeping track of health-related issues at the slum level. “They should pay us for the extra work we do. We will not do it otherwise,” said Kamble.
The administration has, however, refused the union’s demand and has claimed that their honorariums had been increased from Rs2,500 to Rs4,000 keeping in mind the extra work they did. “It is not possible to pay them any more. The anti-malarial work they are doing is part of their duty,” said an official from the health department, on the condition of anonymity. In spite of repeated phone calls, Mhaiskar was not available for comment.