Asha workers’ stir to hit pulse polio, maternal care

Asha workers’ stir to hit pulse polio, maternal care

The Accredited Social Health Activists (Asha workers) have refused to return to work even as several health schemes and surveys that they collect the basic data for hang in balance. (DH Photo/Ranju P)

The Pulse Polio Campaign in Karnataka could hit a hurdle as not enough data is being gathered in the initial days in the wake of the strike by Asha workers.

The Accredited Social Health Activists (Asha workers) have refused to return to work even as several health schemes and surveys that they collect the basic data for hang in balance.

The Pulse Polio Campaign could encounter a major hurdle if the protesting Asha workers do not return. Asha workers have boycotted work as part of an indefinite protest, demanding that their dues be cleared.

When the Pulse Polio Campaign is announced, Asha workers are expected to visit individual households and gather data about the number of children that are to be immunised, the number of children who have migrated and also meet parents to create awareness among them.

“We are expected to compile the report of the number of children who are due for immunisation and submit it by Thursday. We are also expected to accompany expectant mothers to hospitals. We are not doing any of this,” the Asha workers said.

“For the Pulse Polio Campaign, we were expected to gather details of children who are to be vaccinated, along with their age and contact numbers of the parents. This helps plan the campaign at a micro-level. We will not compile that either,” said Geetha, an Asha worker.

Nagalakhsmi B, state secretary, Asha Workers Union, said with the protest continuing, Asha workers will not participate in any of these activities.

“They have sent a circular citing that they will not pay us honorarium. It is ironic, as the protest itself is against the non-payment,” she said.

The department recently issued a memorandum in which it said that Asha workers boycotting work will not be paid their honorarium and that disciplinary action will be taken.

Pankaj Kumar Pandey, commissioner, department of health and family welfare, said 14,000 Asha workers out of the 40,000 already reported for work on Monday and that about 40% agreed to return on Tuesday. 

“When we have taken into consideration a majority of their demands, I do not see why they will not return to work. We are confident that most of them will soon report to work,” he said.

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