ASHA Workers: WHO Recognition Comes Amid Protest For Higher Wages
ASHAs have been protesting for better wages across the country as their work is attributed to be voluntary
The World Health Organisation recognised the work of India's one million Accredited Social Health Activists (ASHAs) and lauded them with one of the six global health awards who continue to fight for their rights.
While the health workers that are the primary backbone of the Indian healthcare system were awarded at the 75th Health Assembly for their work through the years especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, they have been fighting for an increase in their wages.
The ASHAs assist in smoothly conducting most of the programs of the National Health Mission right from maternal and child health, to even sexually transmitted diseases, and TB. However, their compensations and wages are dependent on task-based incentives and honorariums decided by state governments.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his tweet expressed gratitude for the work that the female health community workers have undertaken over the years. He has never spoken about their protests, though.
Over the past few years, several states have seen the front line workers protesting to improve their working conditions and receive a fixed salary along with a better pay.
To meet the minimum wage, ASHAs have demanded a compensation of at least ₹21,000. In most states they only receive an honorarium of ₹7,000, while some states pay them ₹10,000 every month for their services. They then receive task based incentives.
The issue about the incentives was even raised in the Rajyasabha in March, 2022. In a written response, the Government shared that ASHAs receive a fixed monthly incentive of ₹2000 per month for routine and recurring activities such as attending village health nutrition days, creating line lists for children immunisation.
For other initiatives, they are paid a certain amount based on the performances. These include conducting the various National Health Programs and their activities like providing antenatal care for pregnant mothers, for convincing these women to seek institutional delivery, for providing nutrition to children, for helping with the TB, Leprosy, reproductive health programs.
In the protests held across Maharashtra, Kashmir, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh in the recent past, ASHAs have been asking for better treatment. As most of the health burden falls on their shoulders, the front line workers are demanding fixed salaries.
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