The Accredited Social Health Activists (ASHA) workers are working on a par with other medical professionals, police and sanitation workers in their crusade against the spread of COVID-19 in the district but they are treated as a second-grade citizens and denied basic safety gadgets such as masks, sanitisers, gloves etc.
Above all, they were not even given their honorary performance-based incentive amount since last four months. The ASHA workers are appointed for universal immunisation, referral and escort services for reproductive and child health and other health care programmes and also construction of individual sanitary latrines in the rural areas. Following the outbreak of COVID-19, the district authorities have roped in ASHA workers in rapid medical teams for conducting door-to-door health survey and screening people in the containment zones. The ASHA workers worked with the doctors and ANMs in the medical teams by touring containment zones in Ramagundam and Godavarikhani.
Incidentally, the ASHA workers were not provided basic safety gadgets such as masks, gloves and sanitisers while touring the containment zones. Despite that, the ASHA workers are discharging their duties bravely by protecting themselves using towels and chunni as masks.
The government is providing salaries and Chief Minister’s gift amount to the medical and sanitation workers. But, there is no incentive amount (honorarium) to around 550 ASHA workers of the Peddapalli district since last four months. “At least provide us our legitimate incentive amount which ranges from ₹ 4,000 to ₹ 7,000 per month to each worker,” said the ASHA workers.
CITU district assistant secretary G Jyothi said that ASHA workers were denied incentives since December 2019 onwards due to lethargy on the part of the district officials, who were avoiding payment on the pretext of technical snags in computers. When all the districts provide incentive amounts to ASHA workers, why only delayed payments in Peddapalli district, she asked.
During this lockdown period, some of the ASHA workers, whose only income is the incentive amount , are a worried lot, she said. Demanding that the government provide CM gift of ₹ 5,000 each to all the ASHA workers, who were working relentlessly fighting against the virus, she also urged the government to make early payment of incentive amount to ASHA workers and provide them adequate safety kits of masks, gloves, sanitisers etc.