Risking lives

ASHA workers seek justice for the exemplary work they do!

What’s wrong in seeking incentives & insurance cover, those working on the frontline want to know

ASHA workers seek justice for the exemplary work they do!

As many as 1,800 ASHA workers work day and night in the district. While some are wives of labourers, auto-rickshaw drivers and farmers, others are single mothers finding it difficult to make ends meet.

Ajay Joshi
Tribune News Service
Jalandhar, July 22

Accredited Social Health Activists (ASHAs) in Kartarpur are seeking better remuneration and what’s wrong in it? They are working at the forefront to fight war against Covid-19 and paid pittance for the exemplary work they are doing.

Major demands

  • Give salaries as per Minimum Wages Act
  • Pay survey incentive of Rs12 instead of Rs4 per person apart from a health insurance cover
  • Give travel and mobile bill allowances of Rs250 and Rs300, respectively, as it takes high internet connectivity over a smart phone to operate COVA app to register survey details
  • Extend Covid incentive till December 31, this year
  • Supervisor should not be forced to push people for Covid testing and Block Level Officers and patwaris should not be permitted to overburden ASHA workers with extra duties

Being overworked post Covid outbreak, ASHA workers rue that they were paid incentive of just Rs4 per person, while conducting door-to-door service.

Notably, a large number of ASHA workers are deployed to do surveys at each and every household to contain Covid spread, especially in containment zones.

As many as 162 ASHA workers, mostly from humble background, work day and night in Kartarpur. While some are wives of labourers, auto-rickshaw drivers and farmers, others are single mothers finding it difficult to make ends meet.

Amrit Pal Kaur (42), who has been working as an ASHA worker for the past 12 years, said: “Apart from surveys, we constantly get calls from health officials, including nurses, saying there’s a Covid positive case, get the survey of the building or the locality done and track quarantined people. Sans protective gears, it becomes even more difficult to reach out to people. Forget the incentives, we aren’t even given masks, gloves and a sanitiser. Considering the amount of work we do and people we get in contact with, masks need to be changed twice or thrice a day. The incentive offered by the government is even lesser than the compensation offered to construction workers,” Amrit said.

Similarly, Manjit Kaur, who has been an ASHA worker for the past six years, said: “We visit almost every locality and get in direct contact with people. Yet, there is no health insurance for us. On 24-hour duties, we are equally waging a war against the coronavirus, but we are even denied treatment at government hospitals, when we get injured in any accident during duty hours.”

ASHA workers are community health workers and they work on the basis of incentives — i.e. for every health activity such as immunisation, hospital delivery, routine checks of people, these workers are given incentives, not a fixed salary. The workers are mostly women. “Instead of giving us proper salaries, the government is only providing us incentives that, too, untimely,” one of them said.

Pooja, district president of ASHA Workers’ Union (CITU), said: “There are over 1,800 ASHA workers in Jalandhar district and 350 in the city.”

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