Connect with us

Coronavirus Vaccine

ASHA, India’s Female Health Workers On Rural Front Line Get COVID-19 Shot In The First Phase

In 2020, ASHA workers – a million women all in uniform pink saris – have worked frantically on the rural front line to rein in an ever-worsening COVID-19 pandemic as millions of migrants headed home after urban jobs vanished in lockdown

ASHA, India’s Female Health Workers On Rural Front Line Get COVID-19 Shot In The First Phase
Highlights
  • India is first inoculating COVID-19 vaccine to health and frontline workers
  • ASHA workers helped in COVID-19 contact tracing and awareness in villages
  • Eighteen ASHA workers have died on COVID duty: Government

Reuters: A place on priority list is a long-overdue validation for women who work as Accredited Social Health Activists (ASHA) in mainly rural areas. Jyoti Bhambure is usually the one dispensing medicine – this week she was at the receiving end, among the first in India’s million-strong force of women health workers to win a COVID-19 vaccine. Dressed in a bright green sari with a gold border, Ms Bhambure visited the small, rural hospital in western India at the time allotted and said the jab had lifted a weight off her shoulders.

Also Read: An Anganwadi Worker From Maharashtra Rows 14 km Daily To Provide Support To Expecting Mothers And Newborns

“I no longer fear the coronavirus,” said Ms Bhambure, after getting her initial dose on Tuesday, one of the first tranche of front line workers to win protection in the pandemic.

We handle children and interact with mothers, she said. So I am glad I am vaccinated. I have no fear left in my mind.

India has suffered 1,52,000 deaths due to the virus and has prioritised about 30 million front-line workers in the first phase of an inoculation drive that began on January 16.

More than 8,00,000 people have been vaccinated so far, according to government data.

For health workers like Ms Bhambure, a place on the priority list felt like a long-overdue validation for all the women who work as Accredited Social Health Activists – or ASHA for short.

Also Read: How Indira Didi, An Anganwadi Worker Is Braving All Odds Amid Coronavirus To Keep Her Village Healthy

“I was the first to get vaccinated in my village. It felt good. They recognised the work we have done,” she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation by phone from Khed village in western Maharashtra state.

The recognition came late – but it came finally.

In the last, long year, ASHA workers – a million women all in uniform pink saris – have worked frantically on the rural front line to rein in an ever-worsening pandemic as millions of migrants headed home after urban jobs vanished in lockdown.

Multi-tasking does not begin to describe their work.

From offering advice on COVID-19 to recording all village arrivals, the women were simultaneously tasked with quarantining newcomers while keeping up with their traditional duties of caring for newborns and the mothers, too.

Also Read: Chalo Anganwadi: The Rural Child Care Centres In Rajasthan Are Taking A Lead To Fight Malnutrition

ASHA workers saw their work hours and duties stretch ever further and fought even to be recognised as government employees eligible for benefits, rather than just volunteers.

For if ASHA workers did not step up, it was not clear who else could, as the 15-year-old force is sole health provider in many villages where healthcare facilities are distant or non-existent, with 1,000 to 1,500 people in each worker’s care.

Eighteen ASHA workers have died on COVID duty, the government told the parliament last year.

The women take all precautions – masks, sanitiser, some even wear protective equipment – but the fear of infection remains.

I have taken care of 34 coronavirus patients in my village and am still on the job. I do wear a mask but getting vaccinated was important, said Sharda Sachin Patarne, an ASHA worker in Khed village in Pune district, who also got a shot on Tuesday.

Also Read: Internet Saathis In Bihar Are Helping The Community Fight COVID-19 Pandemic By Educating About Hygiene Measures

ASHA was born in 2005 to improve the health of vast swathes of rural India cut off from doctors, clinics and hospitals.

Be it heading up village maternal care or running area-wide vaccination drives, ASHA workers are a linchpin yet say they are treated like volunteers, not even entitled to the minimum wage.

Paid about 4,000 Indian rupees ($54.83) a month – half of the average minimum monthly wage – the women also get payouts of 50 to 500 rupees linked to specific duties they perform.

Last year, they went on strike for better pay, protective equipment and job recognition. They were offered a wage hike for their COVID-19 duties, but many complained of irregular payouts.

So when government rolled out its plans to safeguard the health front line – doctors, nurses, hospital cooks and cleaners – extending that cover to ASHA workers was only logical.

Also Read: ASHA Workers Played Critical Role In COVID-19 Management In Uttar Pradesh, Tracked 30.43 Lakh Migrant Returnees

It sent a “good signal”, said Sejaj Dand, founder of women’s rights non-profit organisation, Anandi, saying the front line would after all not be secure if ASHA were left out.

Next stop, she said, is giving the million women an advocate in government and fair terms to reflect their front-line role.

This should lead to creating a cadre for them in government services and ensuring all their social security rights are covered, Ms Dand said.

“It is only fitting their employment is regularised now.”

Also Read: Meet 87-Year-Old Doctor Who Travels 15 Km Every Day To Treat Villagers In Maharashtra’s Chandrapur Amidst COVID-19 Pandemic

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

NDTV – Dettol Banega Swasth India campaign is an extension of the five-year-old Banega Swachh India initiative helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan. It aims to spread awareness about critical health issues facing the country. In wake of the current COVID-19 pandemic, the need for WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) is reaffirmed as handwashing is one of the ways to prevent Coronavirus infection and other diseases. The campaign highlights the importance of nutrition and healthcare for women and children to prevent maternal and child mortality, fight malnutrition, stunting, wasting, anaemia and disease prevention through vaccines. Importance of programmes like Public Distribution System (PDS), Mid-day Meal Scheme, POSHAN Abhiyan and the role of Aganwadis and ASHA workers are also covered. Only a Swachh or clean India where toilets are used and open defecation free (ODF) status achieved as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014, can eradicate diseases like diahorrea and become a Swasth or healthy India. The campaign will continue to cover issues like air pollution, waste management, plastic ban, manual scavenging and sanitation workers and menstrual hygiene.

World

24,50,12,529Cases
20,64,25,824Active
3,36,14,434Recovered
49,72,271Deaths
Coronavirus has spread to 195 countries. The total confirmed cases worldwide are 24,50,12,529 and 49,72,271 have died; 20,64,25,824 are active cases and 3,36,14,434 have recovered as on October 28, 2021 at 4:00 am.

India

3,42,31,809 16,156Cases
1,60,9891,672Active
3,36,14,434 17,095Recovered
4,56,386 733Deaths
In India, there are 3,42,31,809 confirmed cases including 4,56,386 deaths. The number of active cases is 1,60,989 and 3,36,14,434 have recovered as on October 28, 2021 at 2:30 am.

State Details

State Cases Active Recovered Deaths
Maharashtra

66,06,536 1,485

23,096 3,500

64,43,342 4,947

1,40,098 38

Kerala

49,38,603 9,445

77,158 2,100

48,31,468 6,723

29,977 622

Karnataka

29,86,835 282

8,459 80

29,40,339 349

38,037 13

Tamil Nadu

26,98,493 1,075

12,288 252

26,50,145 1,315

36,060 12

Andhra Pradesh

20,64,854 567

4,777 122

20,45,713 437

14,364 8

Uttar Pradesh

17,10,114 13

100 6

16,87,115 7

22,899

West Bengal

15,89,042 976

7,973 124

15,61,973 837

19,096 15

Delhi

14,39,709 38

348 25

14,14,270 13

25,091

Odisha

10,39,818 549

4,392 213

10,27,108 334

8,318 2

Chhattisgarh

10,05,926 28

263 14

9,92,088 12

13,575 2

Rajasthan

9,54,411 4

20 0

9,45,437 4

8,954

Gujarat

8,26,481 17

173 2

8,16,220 15

10,088

Madhya Pradesh

7,92,804 20

108 9

7,82,172 10

10,524 1

Haryana

7,71,204 15

133 5

7,61,022 10

10,049

Bihar

7,26,073 5

41 1

7,16,371 4

9,661

Telangana

6,70,829 186

4,164 63

6,62,714 122

3,951 1

Assam

6,09,506 244

3,838 153

5,99,681 391

5,987 6

Punjab

6,02,289 38

246 20

5,85,487 16

16,556 2

Jharkhand

3,48,705 28

160 30

3,43,408 56

5,137 2

Uttarakhand

3,43,861 17

150 6

3,36,312 23

7,399

Jammu And Kashmir

3,31,865 70

838 16

3,26,596 86

4,431

Himachal Pradesh

2,23,406 261

1,972 211

2,17,693 48

3,741 2

Goa

1,77,969 23

454 29

1,74,152 51

3,363 1

Puducherry

1,27,846 40

443 10

1,25,546 50

1,857

Manipur

1,23,473 70

844 29

1,20,712 97

1,917 2

Mizoram

1,19,496 547

7,320 446

1,11,752 991

424 2

Tripura

84,438 15

123 1

83,499 14

816

Meghalaya

83,466 51

507 22

81,511 71

1,448 2

Chandigarh

65,331 5

29 2

64,482 3

820

Arunachal Pradesh

55,120 6

115 22

54,725 28

280

Sikkim

31,925 13

177 1

31,353 12

395

Nagaland

31,759 12

222 3

30,856 15

681

Ladakh

20,925 8

47 6

20,670 2

208

Dadra And Nagar Haveli

10,682 1

6 0

10,672 1

4

Lakshadweep

10,365

0 0

10,314

51

Andaman And Nicobar Islands

7,650 2

5 1

7,516 1

129

Coronavirus Outbreak: Full CoverageTesting CentresFAQs

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Highlights From The 12-Hour Telethon

Leaving No One Behind

Mental Health

Environment

Join Us