Unrecognised labour: Frontline workers, such as ASHA workers, need to be incentivised by govt

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September 24, 2020 5:20 AM

Add to this new responsibilities such as screening migrants, contact tracing, etc, and it is fair to say frontline workers have rendered crucial services to the nation.

On the contrary, an Oxfam survey notes, only 23% of ASHA workers were provided bodysuits; with respect to the usage of PPEs, nearly one in four ASHA workers never received any training.On the contrary, an Oxfam survey notes, only 23% of ASHA workers were provided bodysuits; with respect to the usage of PPEs, nearly one in four ASHA workers never received any training. (Representative image)

A recent report, by Women in Global Health India (WGHI), highlights the fact that frontline workers (FLWs), especially ASHA workers, are not being given due incentives for the work they are doing in these hard times. Against the backdrop of the pandemic having interrupted delivery of healthcare services, thereby impacting access for the most vulnerable, even the regular work of ASHA workers—from linking pregnant women to antenatal care to ensuring post-natal care for lactating mothers and babies, etc—had become both more important and incredibly challenging to execute. Add to this new responsibilities such as screening migrants, contact tracing, etc, and it is fair to say FLWs have rendered crucial services to the nation.

Yet, there has been no extra honorarium forthcoming from the government. On the contrary, an Oxfam survey notes, only 23% of ASHA workers were provided bodysuits; with respect to the usage of PPEs, nearly one in four ASHA workers never received any training. The government must recognise the work of ASHA workers via financial and non-financial incentives, and establish capacity-building strategies concerning technology, and develop a support system for their physical and mental well-being. Though ASHA workers are eligible for state support in the Covid times under the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana, the Oxfam survey showed that only 38% of the ASHA workers knew about the scheme. Without efforts to support FLWs, the battle against corona will be hard to win.

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