Tribune News Service
Jalandhar, May 8
Amid the rising cases of Covid-19, strike by members of the National Health Mission (NHM) has severely impacted health services and sampling in the district. Around 500 members of the NHM who were involved in Covid-related duties until May 3 have been on strike since May 3. Demanding the regularization of services, their protest hit a number of Covid-related duties – from sampling to data collection and contact tracing.
At the Shahkot CHC, where 250 to 280 samples were being collected daily, they have now been reduced to 80 to 100. Other health centres acutely impacted by the strike include Bilga, Jamsher, Kala Bakra, Jandiala, Mehatpur, Adampur, Kartarpur and Bara Pind.
The 500 NHM personnel on strike in Jalandhar include auxillary nurse midwives (ANMs), pharmacists, Ayurvedic Medical Officers, homoeopathic medical officers, their respective pharmacists, laboratory technicians, staff nurses, information assistants, accountants, Block Statistical Analysts and computer operators.
Such is the impact of the strike that no medical bulletin is being sent formally by the Health Department on an official WhatsApp group created for the purpose for the past three days. A formal message from the Health Department informs, “NHM staff de bulare vallon sadesh aya hai ki oh hartal te hon karan ohnan vallon media bulletin daftar civil surgeon Jalandhar nu Covid di report aj di nahi denge.” (There is a message from NHM staff that due to the strike they will not send media bulletin for Covid-19 to CH, Jalandhar office, today.)
While the timing of strike in the middle of the pandemic has also drawn flak from all quarters, staff say the demand has been raised many times in the past.
Dr Dhiraj Kumar, Ayurvedic Medical Officer, said, “We want our side to be known. We have been urging the Health Department and the government for the past many years demanding regularisation. Around 80 per cent staff with the Health Department is NRHM. School health, polio, woman and child care, and a plethora of departments are dependent on us. During Covid-19, our 500 frontline workers have been infected and various doctors and pharmacists have died. We worked day and night on stretch on flood duties during the Shahkot floods as well. The government had been promising to regularize the services. It’s been a five to six-year-long agitation. In the last meeting on 5 May, we were asked to take a 9 per cent increment. But we are in the most dangerous jobs and we have no health insurance. We demand nothing less than regularisation.”
Continuing with their strike, the members staged a protest and handed over a memorandum directed to the CM to Shahkot MLA Ladi Sherowalia. On Friday, a memorandum was handed over to SDM Dr Sanjeev Sharma. Employees said their strike would go on for an indefinite period until their demands were met.
Jal Board staff demand free treatment for workers
As if the strike by the NHM employees was not enough, the Jal Supply and Sanitation Contract Workers have also threatened to go on strike. State president Varinder Singh Momi and state general secretary Kuldip Singh Budhewal in a statement released today said the government was not making any provision for masks and sanitisers, etc, for the Jal Supply and Sanitation Contract Workers who have been going home during the pandemic. They said the government had deputed various duties for them amidst the pandemic.
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