Srinagar, June 26: Third State Conference of ASHA workers was held at Srinagar on Sunday which was attended by a number of delegates from across the Kashmir region. The conference was inaugurated by UshaKumari, President of All India Federation of Anganwadi Workers and Helpers (AIFAWAH).
The participants in the conference expressed serious concerns over the plight of ASHA workers of the region.
A.R Sendhu, general secretary All India Federation of Anganwadi Workers and Helpers (AIFAWAH) greeted the conference.
While addressing the conference, Surekha, leader of All India Coordination Committee of ASHA Workers (AICCAW) expressed concern over the insensitivity of the J&K administration and Government of India towards the plight of ASHAs. Attached to the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM), the ASHAs are regarded as the first port of call for any health-related demands of deprived sections of the population, especially women and children in rural areas, who may otherwise find it difficult to access health services. Their duties normally involve community development through healthcare awareness and increasing utilisation of the existing health services. Since the outbreak of the pandemic, however, the workload of ASHAs has increased manifold, with governments – Central and state –involving them in contract tracing COVID-19 patients, facilitating access to testing and vaccination facilities, along with spreading door-to-door awareness among other work.
She appealed the government to regularise the services of these ASHA workers, and pay them ?12,000 honorarium, provide them maternity and medical benefits, give compensation to those who died while discharging COVID duties, provide mobile phones, social security for these workers and give priority to them while recruiting ANMs.
While addressing the conference, A R Sindhu, general secretary, All India Federation of Anganwadi Workers and Helpers, who has been working for Anganwadi and ASHAs throughout the country said that the services of ASHAs are undoubtedly the most essential in today’s time. Yet, the hopes of ASHAs of even being recognised as a ‘worker’ unfortunately remain shattered. Though ASHAs play a major role in creating awareness and facilitating community health care in rural areas, they are deprived of the benefits provided by the government.
While addressing the conference, UshaKumari, President, All India Federation of Anganwadi Workers and Helpers stressed upon the workers the need to build strong organization at village level in order to force the government to act upon the long pending demands.
She said that the government has totally neglected ASHA workers who are contributing a lot to make the National Health Mission (NHM) a success scheme. She urged upon the government to consider their genuine demands which include enhancement and timely disbursement of honorarium, six hour duty per day, supply of special kits, social security benefits like EPF and pension, etc.
The leaders said the government must acknowledge the contribution of ASHAs to the NHM and the improvement of the health status of the poor.
They said ASHAs work in rough terrains of rural areas tirelessly, despite all the difficulties they are confronted with. The government must take serious note of the brewing discontentment among these workers and take necessary action for the immediate fulfilment of their demands, failing which; the national health mission may get affected badly.