Thousands of Odisha's healthcare workers say no to Covid-19 vaccine, here's why
MPW workers demand promotion and cadre-restructuring.
Ahead of the countrywide Covid-19 vaccination drive, about 15,000 multipurpose health workers have said they will not take Covid-19 vaccine in protest against state government's callousness in cadre restructuring and designation change.
The health workers, under the banner of Odisha State Male and Female Multipurpose Health Workers'/Health Supervisors’ United Association, started wearing black badges on Friday as a symbolic protest and refused to take the vaccination if their demands are not met.
The Multipurpose Health Workers (Male and Female) work in preventive and promotive healthcare sector starting at village sub-health centres for control of communicable diseases, including Malaria, TB, Leprosy, waterborne diseases, as well as environmental sanitation.
“Our members have played a significant role in village and primary health centre (PHC) level during the Covid-19 pandemic. We have motivated people to go for testing and have created awareness among people about the disease. Our members collected swabs from people during Covid. But we did not get our dues from the government,” said Rabindranath Pradhan, general secretary of State Multipurpose Health Workers (Male) Association.
Pradhan said many MPW workers do not even get a single promotion despite working hard throughout their lives and that's why cadre-restructuring was needed. "However, we would assist the government in vaccination drive from January 16," he said.
Mamata Nayak of the association said the government should decide quickly on the designation of the workers as many of them are treated poorly despite having professional degrees. "For a long time we have been demanding to be designated as Upakendra Janaswasthya Aadhikari which would be acceptable at the community level and the health workers would be more inspired," said Nayak.
Odisha would administer Covid-19 vaccine shots to about 1.92 lakh healthcare workers during the first phase of the nationwide vaccination programme. The state has already received 4.08 lakh Covishield and 20,000 Covaxin doses for the first phase of vaccination to be held across 160 session sites across. Dr BK Panigrahi, state nodal officer for Covid-19 vaccination said all the 160 session sites have been duly provisioned with at least three rooms each for vaccination, waiting, and observation.