In Madhya Pradesh, Accredited Social Health Activists (ASHA) workers, who are an essential link in providing rural healthcare to the public across India, are on an indefinite strike demanding an increase in their monthly stipend and permanent employment status.
Currently, they receive a monthly stipend of ?2,000, with additional incentives for deliveries. However, ASHA workers feel that their work is not being recognized by the government, and they are not receiving minimum wages for their efforts.
ASHA workers are involved in various activities, including data collection during the COVID-19 pandemic, surveys for tuberculosis and leprosy, and working until midnight for the Ayushman Bharat scheme. They have been working tirelessly during the pandemic, putting their lives on the line to ensure rural communities receive essential healthcare services.
The ASHA workers’ strike is causing concern among pregnant women in the state as ASHA workers are responsible for ensuring they receive vaccinations. However, due to the strike, some pregnant women are not receiving their vaccinations, leading to anxiety about their health and their child’s health.
In 2021, ASHA workers in Madhya Pradesh had gone on strike, but they resumed work following government assurances.
The ASHA workers are standing firm on their demands this time and refusing to back down until they are met. They have put forward two requests, which are the regularisation of their positions and a minimum wage of ?15,000 for supervisors and ?10,000 for ASHA workers.
In addition, the ASHA workers believe that their work is not being justly compensated, despite their participation in numerous tasks, such as conducting surveys and assisting during childbirth.
For instance, when ASHA workers go for deliveries, there is no arrangement for them to rest or sleep. Also, panchayats involve ASHA workers in various works and surveys, but they do not receive any compensation for their efforts.
Some ASHA workers have met Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan to discuss their demands. The government needs to acknowledge the hard work and dedication of ASHA workers and address their demands. ASHA workers play an essential role in providing rural healthcare services in India, and their contribution should be appreciated and appropriately compensated.
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