ASHA workers’ body demands PPE kits after one of them contracts Covid-19
A day after an ASHA (Accredited Social Health Activist) worker, deployed in Central Delhi district’s Sadar Bazaar area for containment activities, tested positive for Covid-19, the Delhi ASHA Workers Association (DAWA) Monday stepped up their demand for personal protective equipment (PPE) kits for all ASHA workers who are on Covid-19 containment duties.
The 32-year-old ASHA worker was deployed in Sadar Bazaar for door-to-door survey to identify infected persons. According to DAWA, she completed a field survey of over 300 houses in Sadar Bazaar area last week. As she wasn’t feeling well, she got herself tested for Covid-19 and her results came positive Sunday.
A senior district official said, “The worker, who is a resident of the same area, was admitted to Ram Manohar Lohia hospital on Sunday afternoon after her test reports came positive for Covid-19.”
Kavita Yadav, state coordinator for ASHA workers, All India United Traders Union Centre (AIUTUC), said, “She is the first ASHA worker to test positive in Delhi. A lot of ASHA workers are not getting protective kits to carry out their work. Now that so many ASHA workers are deployed in containment zones, we want the Delhi government to give them PPE kits which are given to all front line workers. They are going door-to-door in containment zones to identify infected persons, thereby putting themselves at risk.”
However, a senior Delhi government official said ASHA workers are provided gloves, masks and shoe covers and they did not require PPE kits. “They don’t require PPE, as they are supposed to maintain a social distance while collecting information from people during the door-to-door survey. They are provided a basic kit comprising masks, gloves and sanitisers. PPE kits are to be used by hospital staff,” the official said.
But Yadav said, “The chances of ASHA workers contracting the infection are very high, as it is difficult to say which resident is a carrier of the infection, and they interact with so many. So PPE kits should be given to them.”
ASHA workers have also been demanding better wages and timely payments. Of the 5,900 ASHA workers in Delhi, a large number of them is currently conducting door-to-door surveys to identify Covid-19 infected persons, especially in containment zones.
The Delhi Asha Workers’ Association said they were not paid salaries for the month of March and that the incentive assured by the government is less than the financial assistance given to construction workers and auto drivers to compensate for loss of work due to the ongoing lockdown.
The association wants the Delhi government to pay workers minimum wages or at least ₹10,000 per month till the time they are on Covid-19 duty. It had also written to Delhi health minister Satyendar Jain in this regard. But a senior official said a decision is yet to be taken.