The Accredited Social Health Activists (ASHA), who are playing a pivotal role during the COVID-19 pandemic, have decided to boycott work across Karnataka from July 10 due to low wages and the lack of adequate protective gear. They are demanding the State government to provide them with a monthly wage of Rs 12,000 including their current honorariums and additional incentives.

The COVID-19 warriors in Karnataka have surveyed 1.59 crore households in Karnataka. It is estimated that 20 ASHA workers nationwide have succumbed to COVID-19. Some ASHAs have also been reportedly stigmatised by neighbours and relatives due to the fears that they may contract COVID-19 through the workers.

They have resiliently persisted despite the hostile behaviour and the incessant, lurking fear of infection. The 42,000 ASHA workers in Karnataka are certainly one of the most noteworthy assets in the state’s battle against COVID-19.

What You Should Know

  • The Accredited Social Health Activists (ASHA)have decided to boycott work from July 10 across Karnataka due to low wages and the lack of adequate protective gear.
  • They are demanding the State government to provide them with a monthly wage of Rs 12,000 including their current honorariums and additional incentives.
  • ASHA Workers are playing a pivotal role during the COVID-19 pandemic.

ASHAs were first introduced into India’s public healthcare system in 2005. Consequently, it became one of the world’s largest community health worker programmes. ASHA workers actively link their communities with the public health system. They perform imperative tasks, ranging from recording data about births, deaths and marriages; providing information about nutrition, sanitation to assisting pregnant women and sick children.

Frontline COVID-19 Warriors

The surge in COVID-19 caseloads has overwhelmingly added to their duties. ASHAs are now to educate people about safeguards against infection, observe quarantined households, trace contacts of infected people. They also aid with testing.

The ASHAs have been participating in the COVID-19 household surveys and screening inter-state passengers, migrant workers, and others in the community for symptoms of COVID-19. They carried out a survey to identify households with senior citizens, people with comorbidities, and immuno-compromised persons.

ASHA workers routinely monitor high-risk groups and conduct follow-up visits once a day in the containment zones and once every 15 days in other areas. The workers also brief families on safety protocols. They connect persons complaining of ILI and SARI symptoms to the State Health Department.

They work with the Rural Task Force spearheaded by a Panchayat Development Officer (PDO) at the Gram Panchayat level. It serves to address public grievances associated with COVID-19 and non-COVID-19 related services. They also distribute food and medicines. In urban areas, they play an eminent role in fever clinics and swab collection centres.

On the issue of ASHA and Anganwadi workers also being discontent, Karnataka Health Minister B Sriramulu requested the workers not to quit service and assured that their demands will be met.

Also Read: Andhra Pradesh CM Jagan Reddy Raises ASHA Workers’ Salary By 300%

Ria Chakraborty is an intern with SheThePeople.TV

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