On Monday, hundreds of Accredited Social Health Activist (ASHA) workers from the AP ASHA Workers Union staged a protest at the Mahatma Gandhi statue, demanding the Andhra Pradesh State Government to fulfill their long-pending demands. All the Vizag ASHA health workers sat down near the Mahatma’s Gandhi statue and held massive protests holding placards with their demands written on them.
Major demands of the health workers include reducing the workload, providing them (and their families) better medical facilities, giving them uniform allowances, retirement benefits for workers who are above 60 years, and permanent job employment. Regarding medical facilities, the workers are additionally concerned for those, amongst them, who have been affected by COVID-19.
According to Honorary President of AP ASHA Workers Union, P Mani, previously there was one ASHA worker appointed for every 1,000-2,500 people. But now, every ASHA worker serves a 5000-8000 member population. This has increased the work stress for the ASHA worker with no increase in wages. ASHA workers have also been instrumental in the district fighting Covid-19 and are currently have been appointed to take preventive measures to curb the case of seasonal fevers. The union demanded a minimum salary of Rs 21,000 against the current pay of Rs 10,000.
According to the ASHA workers, many are dying with health issues while they are working, but still, the government pays no heed to their requests. They also claim that the government has not provided any benefits or support for the deceased families to date. On that note, they demanded that the State stops sending ASHA workers for sachivalayam works which is an additional burden on them. Given the pandemic situation, the ASHA workers also demanded they be provided with sufficient masks, gloves, sanitizer, and also a smartphone for every worker who is on fieldwork. The Vizag ASHA health workers were steadfast about their demands and vowed to continue protests till their demands are fulfilled.
A representation has been submitted to the Visakhapatnam District Collector and Andhra Pradesh State Government for further action.