While providing primary health care services in rural areas, the constant struggle of ASHAs for better wages continues in Maharashtra.
Approximately 50,000 Accredited Social Health Activist (ASHA) workers went on strike on June 4th, 2019, demanding hike in their wages. The workforce of ASHA is conceptualised under the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM), a total of 43 different functions are assigned to them along with specific remuneration for each of them. Depending upon the individual task, the payment is released from the Central government. The states are free to formulate their policies.
“We get Rs.500 for keeping the records, Rs.300 for delivery, for blood test we get Rs.15”, said Maya Khurap, an Asha Worker from Dindori village. In a month she gets nothing more than Rs.1500 as wage. “We have to cover 30 households, between 9 am to 12 pm, which is very difficult, and time taking. We don't get time to do anything else”, she adds.
Maya is an Asha worker, one of the 65000 women, who was appointed by the Maharashtra Government, aiming to provide primary health care facilities in every household. Recognition and fair remuneration of Asha workers still remains a key issue in India’s healthcare system. The workload increased, but not the payment.
“Rs.1500 to Rs.1800 is a very meager amount for payment”, laments Maya.
The Ayushman Bharat scheme, an ambitious initiative, was pitched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, as a healthcare model. In BJP’s manifesto, it promises to expand the ASHA program and appoint a second ASHA in all villages with a population exceeding 2,500. But how we are going to take it forward with the health care workers, is a forebode for which we have to be prepared.
Very recently, ASHA workers and Community Health workers from 13 districts of Andhra Pradesh staged a massive protest, to increase their salaries to Rs 10,000 per month as promised before the state Assembly elections. Similarly, on the 4th of September, nearly 3000 Asha workers staged a protest in Nashik to demand a rise in the honorarium they are paid by the government. But the non-implementation of claims by the government adds to the agitation of overworked Asha workers.
Video by Community Correspondent Maya Khodve
Article by Grace Jolliffe, a member of VV Editorial Team.