Struggles of Asha workers

ASHA workers are the ones who visit individual houses with children and mothers and facilitate access to health-related services available at the Anganwadi/sub-centre/primary health centers, such as immunization, Ante Natal Check-up (ANC), Post Natal Check-up supplementary nutrition, sanitation, and other services being provided by the government.

Despite working around the clock during the pandemic, around 42,000 Accredited Social Health Activist (ASHA) workers haven’t received their salaries, which are as low as Rs 4,000.

Rajeshwari, an ASHA worker says, “Whether the call of duty comes, day or night, we must be ready. In case of emergencies for pregnant women, the patient and their families insist that we accompany them to the hospitals.”

In places like Kalaburgi, Ballari, and Raichur districts, Asha workers have to do their fieldwork in extremely hot weather. Every time, when these issues are reported, the state union comes together to protest. This year, they couldn’t come out to protest due to the pandemic. However, the union members responsible for the governing of these workers are following up regularly with the department officials.

While the state government provides them with a fixed salary of Rs 4,000, the central government is supposed to pay them Rs 2000 to 3000 every month. This time, the workers haven’t received their salaries from both sides.

Besides low salary or no salary, what worries the workers most is coming in contact with the virus when on duty. Across the state, around 1,000 ASHA workers have tested positive in the past 15 days this month.

Last year, PM Narendra Modi announced that a frontline worker will be provided with Rs 50 lakh compensation under the Garib Kalyana Yojana if they die due to COVID-19. So far, none of these families of deceased have received compensation of 50 lakh.

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