First, let’s begin with understanding, what ASHA workers are all about. It’s a government program which was launched in 2005. It stands for Accredited Social Health Activist.
It’s full-fledged implication started in 2012. It was started by the government of India’s health and family welfare. Once it was fully implemented there was an “ASHA” in every village of India. As of December 2014, there are 859,331 ASHA’s all over the county.
ASHA WORKERS DURING COVID-19
India is battling with COVID-19 each day. We recorded our single biggest day jump today, as 70 thousand people test positive for the virus. With our entire health system crippling down, we have 900,000 women known as the ASHA workers at the forefront. They are dealing with this pandemic unarmed. Their plea is unheard of.
With very little remuneration, they are expected to carry big and enormous tasks. They are expected to improve the awareness of the already existing government health-related schemes.
As this pandemic started to reach its peak, their role was increased yet nothing was done to provide them with proper protection, safety, monetary help. They were called to do house to house testing to bring down the number of cases. The fact, that they’re exposed to the environment and public puts them at the highest risk. Basically, it’s all work and no pay.
These ASHA workers do not have access to masks or hand sanitizers, at a time where these are the biggest necessities. The masks are not being replaced, which makes them unfit for future use. Adding on to it, there are two cases reported in Karnataka where two ASHA workers were manhandled.
ASHA workers are not entitled to a fixed salary, which makes the entire situation even worse. No proper safety gear and no proper pay is how we’d describe this heartbreaking situation of these ASHA workers. They are definitely neglected and barely equipped.
Anita Agarwal, an ASHA worker in Dehradun says, why not give us things that would protect us from catching the virus, instead of financial schemes which aren’t feasible.
The ASHA workers demanded a minimum pay of 21,000 per month at a protest held in Bangalore. They also demanded proper personal health kits and health insurance for their families. After one of these ASHA workers tested COVID positive after serving in one of the containment zones, their demands for PPE kits went up. Their cry is never-ending. The assistance given to them is lesser than what the government is going for the construction workers and the auto drivers due to their loss of works.
With the entire country crashing down, jobs being taken away, education sector suffering, families suffering, the financial situation of the country coming down, the least our government can do is to pay a sufficient amount to our health care workers and make their job easier and safer. If they are safe, the country is going to be safe. The sooner we realize, the better it is.
At Mitti Ke Rang, we started with a COVID-19 community support fundraising, as an emergency response to provide a safety net to families. This will help them survive in the lockdown period. We aim to directly support these families by providing a minimum wage, through transferring the same into their accounts or partner with local NGO, Organisation, Fellow, or a Volunteer, and support them with groceries.
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