‘Work sans masks, sanitisers’: Uttarakhand ASHA workers seek Covid allowance
Apart from working in quarantine centres, ASHA workers also ensure vaccinations, institutional deliveries of pregnant women, the surveillance work of people returning to the state among other duties.Updated: Jul 09, 2020 18:18 IST
Accredited Social Health Activist or ASHA workers in Uttarakhand’s Champawat say they have been given Covid-19 duties at three-four different places at the same time, making it difficult for them to carry out their tasks. The district administration recently issued a letter saying those not doing their duties will be replaced.
The activists have complained that they are overloaded with work.
The state has a total of almost 50,000 ASHA workers who get Rs 2000 every month (divided equally between Centre and state government) apart from incentives for different procedures.
Sarswati Punetha, an ASHA worker from Champawat, said: “ASHA workers here have been working continuously for the past three months. There are Covid-19 patients also at the quarantine centres posing a risk to our health, yet the government is not helping us. We are overworked and work without sanitisers, masks or gloves.”
“Despite working so much we are now learning that ASHA workers will be replaced if we do not work properly,” she added.
Apart from working in quarantine centres, ASHA workers also ensure vaccinations, institutional deliveries of pregnant women, the surveillance work of people returning to the state among other duties.
Kamla Kunjwal, state president of Uttarakhand ASHA Workers Union, said: “ASHA workers are the frontline warriors in the state’s battle against Covid-19. We are not just monitoring those who have been quarantined but also doing our traditional duties. We demand that Rs 10,000 monthly Covid-19 allowance should be given to us in such a situation.”
Kunjwal demanded that outstanding payment for the past three months should be given to the workers at the earliest.
ASHA workers from Nainital recently staged a protest supporting workers from Champawat district.
Last week, a delegation of ASHA workers met the director general of health regarding their demands of being given a proper honorarium like aanganwadi workers or other government professionals involved in ground level Covid-19 surveillance.
Shiba Dubey, state head of ASHA Swasthya Karyakati Union associated with Centre of Indian Trade Union (CITU) said that they gave a memorandum to the director-general of health with their demands of giving an incentive to ASHA workers for their duty during Covid-19.
“We were assured by the director-general that ASHA workers would be given an incentive. We have also demanded that ASHA workers should not be removed from their posts in Champawat district,” said Dubey.
Dr RP Khanduri, chief medical officer of Champawat district said that no ASHA worker has been removed from their posts in the district.
“We have not removed any ASHA workers in the district. They are working a lot and helping the health department in its fight against Covid-19. We have just issued an order saying that those who are not working will be replaced, but no action has been taken yet,” said Dr Khanduri.
On June 26, honouring ASHA workers for their role in the state’s fight against Covid-19, the state government announced that it will give Rs 1,000 to every Accredited Social Health Activist (ASHA) and Aanganwadi workers in the state.
(With inputs from Ankur Sharma in Haldwani)