The Accredited Social Health Activist (ASHA) workers across Assam have waged war against the unmoved attitude of the state government and decided to boycott their duties for two weeks, starting from January 6.
According to a report by the EastMojo, Sadou Asom Asha Karmi Santha (SAAKS), their association, has pointed out that the government has been refusing to act on their long-pending demands and hence they were left with no option but to abstain from performing their duties.
Dipti Devi, President, SAAKS, told the publication that ASHA workers, despite offering 'their services devotionally and dedicatedly' under the state government's health department for 15 years, they have not got their demands fulfilled. She further informed that the workers have been tasked with about 72 duties for a nominal amount of remuneration.
Reports have listed the six demands that have been put forward by the ASHA workers association which includes permanent appointment like the workers under the National Health Mission, providing an adequate salary for the services, to clear arrears in salary which was pending from 2013 to 2017, to release the full amount of ₹10,000 granted by Sanitation Committee to each respective area of the ASHA worker, allotting health cards to every ASHA worker under Atal Amrit Yojana and Ayushman Bharat Yojana, and scrap the order to retire ASHA workers above 60 years
As many as 33,000 ASHA workers are engaged in providing basic healthcare services to the people across the state. These workers appointed by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare in 2005 have been working towards achieving several goals on a grass-root level such as promoting universal immunisation, community counselling and creating awareness on healthcare initiatives.
It is crucial to note that with the country gearing up for the COVID-19 vaccination program, starting with dry-runs being conducted in many states, the role of such ground-level workers assumes significance in educating the masses on the vaccine, ensuring the last-mile reach of the vaccine and clearing misconceptions on it.