Telangana Asha workers ask govt for safety gear, proper pay

Nearly 15 months into the pandemic, it was only last week that an ASHA (Accredited Social Health Activist) worker from Kalwakurthy in Nagarkurnool district, was given hand sanitiser.

Hyderabad: The Asha workers in Telangana, who have been constantly employed in COVID-19 and related work, have now come out and asked the government to provide them with proper safety gear, equipment and regularized and pay.

Nearly 15 months into the pandemic, it was only last week that an ASHA (Accredited Social Health Activist) worker from Kalwakurthy in Nagarkurnool district, was given hand sanitizer.

According to News Minute, the staff member said, “Earlier, we were never provided with sanitizers, those were given for other health staff,” she alleged. The situation has been dire for ASHA workers across Telangana, most of whom have been engaged in COVID-19 related work, they say.

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On May 6, several workers held a unique online protest by taking photos outside their health centres and alleging that they were not provided N95 masks, gloves and sanitisers for protection against the novel coronavirus. 

According to the Telangana Voluntary and Community Healthworkers Union (TVCHU) — the state association of ASHA workers led by Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) — at least 50 of them have died so far, and 500 have contracted the COVID-19.

The primary role of ASHA workers is to mobilise the community and help them access health and health-related services, including immunisation, ante and postnatal care, Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS), sanitation and other services being provided by the government.

Nagarkurnool District Medical and Health Officer (DMHO) Dr Sudhakar however denied these allegations. The DMHO said that they are regularly providing the ASHA workers with all necessary safety equipment.

“The allegations are baseless. We procured 6,000 liters of sanitizers from Raichur, and all the ASHA workers are given 30 pairs of masks per month. We stress on the safety of the frontline workers, so these allegations are wrong,” Dr Sudhakar was quoted as saying by TNM.

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