ASHA Workers
The time has come. People must stand for the rights of Accredited Social Health Activists (ASHA).

These ASHAs are instituted by the ‘National Rural Health Mission'. These all women workforce, over 9 lakh of them, are at the bottom of the pyramid—the interface between the community and Indian Public Health Delivery System, standing in the last mile—creating an Oasis. They enjoy no rights or legal protection and deserve, at the very least to be treated as regular employees who enjoy a dignified wage, health and work- place benefits and allowances. The work they do is pivotal at all times. During the last Corona virus pandemic they worked doggedly round-the-clock as frontline workers, risking both life and good health. The authorities must ensure a social and legal security net for them.

India is on the 3rd wave and cases are rising across the country. In this uncertain scenario, the people who are staying in remote areas, far flung villages, away from regular access to healthcare, are obliged to rely heavily on these ASHAs.

The responsibility of health delivery in rural India lies heavily on the shoulders of ASHAs. In return, they do not even get paid regular monthly salaries, their job is not secure, they work without health insurance and get paid with incentives, often delayed or deducted. To make matters worse, the Government is hardly providing them with the necessary amount of personal safety or medical testing equipment.

Ideally, they should be equipped to take on this 3rd wave and be compensated. The country lost ASHAs due to Covid-19 last year, in their line of duty, because they had to work throughout the menacing pandemic.

ASHAs are often paid as little as INR 2800 a month without the benefits of welfare schemes because she is not an employee of the Government. ASHA workers must be given benefits of schemes that ensure some level of food and health Security.
Nilankur Das

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Vol 54, No. 32, Feb 6 - 12, 2022