ASHA workers agitating for an assured pay

They track mothers-to-be, register them at nearest health centre, monitor their health, motivate them to health check-ups, distribute iron supplements, ensure institutional deliveries, and after delivery, they get the children immunised.

In a nutshell, the Accredited Social Health Activists (Asha workers), who have been on strike for six weeks, are the backbone of the delivery of the government health services. And as reported widely by media, the workers are not on strike for a hike in the pay. They are on strike for a pay!

Appointed one per 1,000 of population, the Asha workers are paid on piecemeal basis -- Rs.40 for registering a pregnant woman, Rs.200-250 for each institutional delivery and Rs.150 for each family planning procedure.

“After months of monitoring, if the woman chooses private hospital for delivery, we will not be paid. We get paid only for deliveries and procedures in government hospitals,” says K. Geetha, a worker from Amberpet division.

Since their appointment under the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) in 2005-06, the workers have also been responsible for tuberculosis (TB) patients.

“If the patient is cured at the end of the treatment cycle, the worker will get Rs.200. If he or she dies, then she will not be paid,” says P. Jayalakshmi, the president of the Telangana Voluntary and Health Workers’ Union.

Though their recruitment was to support Central schemes, they are used by the State Government too for conducting various surveys, and grass-root level implementation of health programmes.

“We are mandated to visit schools and monitor the students’ health indicators. We measure their height, weight, and administer health supplements and other medication. We also are used for conducting election surveys and are involved in Grama Jyothi programme,” Ms. Geetha informed. The Asha workers are demanding fixed wages at Rs.15,000 per month to be paid by the State Government.

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Printable version | May 30, 2020 12:10:39 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Hyderabad/asha-workers-agitating-for-an-assured-pay/article7755588.ece

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