Chandigarh: Medical services hit as NHM employees go on strike

National Health Mission employees include nursing officers, pharmacy officers, auxiliary nurse midwives, lab technicians, dental technicians; they are demanding equal pay for equal work
Members of the National Health Mission Union staging a protest at Government Multi Speciality Hospital, Sector 16, Chandigarh, on Tuesday. (Keshav Singh/HT)
Members of the National Health Mission Union staging a protest at Government Multi Speciality Hospital, Sector 16, Chandigarh, on Tuesday. (Keshav Singh/HT)
Updated on Aug 25, 2021 12:58 AM IST
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By Mandeep Kaur Narula, Chandigarh

Medical services in government health and wellness centres of Chandigarh were badly affected on Tuesday after over 300 employees of National Health Mission (NHM) went on an indefinite strike to press for their demand of getting equal pay for equal work.

A few Covid-19 vaccination centres, especially in UT’s rural areas, also remained closed on Tuesday after the NHM employees gathered outside the administration block of Government Multi-Specialty Hospital (GMSH), Sector 16, to hold a protest march against the central government and the UT director, health services.

The NHM employees, working under the UT health department as paramedical staff and managerial employees, include nursing officers, pharmacy officers, auxiliary nurse midwives (ANMs), lab technicians, dental technicians and other class-four employees.

“Since 2013, NHM employees in Chandigarh have been working below the pay scale of DC wage rate. However in other states, they are getting better monthly pays. Despite several protests, our demand of getting fair wage for our work has not been met by the central government or the director,” said Amit Kumar, general secretary, NHM Union.

He added, “Initially, we had decided to hold a protest march for only two days, but looking at the officers’ approach, we have decided to go on indefinite strike. All health services rendered by NHM employees will remain suspended from 9am to 3pm daily, until our pay is hiked.”

Pregnant women left in lurch

With most health and wellness centres and/or dispensaries in city’s rural areas closed, pregnant women were left in a lurch. Every Tuesday is fixed as antenatal checkup day in government centres and since ANMs were protesting, the Covid vaccination drive and routine consultation for pregnant women took a hit.

“Health services will remain affected on Wednesday and non-Covid vaccination drives for children will also be suspended in a few dispensaries. We will intensify our protest if our demands are not met,” said NHM employees. Health centres in Mauli village, Raipur Khurd, Daria and Khuda Lahora were completely shut on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, Dr Amandeep Kang, director, health services, UT, said, “We have written a letter to the Centre requesting them to either increase the annual NHM budget for UT or to give us approval for hiking their salaries from the UT administration’s budget. We are waiting to hear back from them.”

UT adviser Dharam Pal said, “I had a discussion with the health secretary and the DHS. The administration will approach the Union government and I will be writing a letter to the Centre shortly.”

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Thursday, October 28, 2021