The Accredited Social Health Activists (ASHA) were instituted by ‘Ministry of Health and Family Welfare’ India under ‘National Rural Health Mission’ in 2005. The ASHA workers work at the bottom of the pyramid - they are the interface between the community and Indian Public Health System. Their main job is to create awareness and mobilise the community towards utilisation of central and local public health plans and programs. They provide minimal curative care at community level and refer the needy to nearby health centres.
The ASHA workers receive very low performance-based incentives and rewards. Amounts vary from state to state and they earn about Rs.3000 or less a month for tasks that take between 4 to 7 hours a day. For Covid prevention, tracing and vaccination work they were paid Rs.1000 a month. In this video from Khorda, Odisha, the Community Correspondent Nitu Chakhia is talking to one of the ASHA workers to understand her daily struggles.
As they are contractual workers, they do not receive Governmental benefits such as insurance, increments, leaves or maternity benefits. In pandemic times, ASHAs were doing community awareness at door steps, household level surveys and also checking for Covid symptoms and motivating people for RTPCR / antigen tests. They were compelled to do this at substantial risk because they were not given adequate protective gears and equipment.
The ASHAs had put forward their demands multiple times to several state, district and block level officials including Ministers and Chief Ministers, but all fell on deaf ears. They are agitating across India now to increase their remunerations and incentives from the Government according to their work. The least they deserve is rights and legal protection and be treated as regular employees who enjoy a dignified wage, health and work-place benefits and allowances.
Video Volunteers are working on a campaign ‘Desh Ki Asha’ to raise their demands. Here are our ground reports on ASHA workers , please share to stand together with ASHA workers in their struggles.
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