ASHAs are community-level health activists who are part of the government’s National Health Mission, one of India’s longstanding public health programmes. Their role is to create awareness on health and mobilise the community towards local health planning, and uptake of existing government health services. At the village-level, the ASHA has to work closely with the Auxiliary Nurse Midwife (ANM) and the Anganwadi Worker (AWW). As mandated by government guidelines, all three roles are carried out only by women.
Below is an interview with an ASHA worker in Solan, Himachal Pradesh. The interview was conducted by the Accountability Initiative state field team in Hindi on 22 July 2020, and has been translated.
Q: Do you still have duties around tracking and tracing of migrants or are you back to your regular duties as a frontline health worker?
ASHA: We are still tracking and monitoring people who are arriving from outside. Since the lockdown is largely over, the responsibilities have increased. Apart from pandemic-related work, we are also doing tests and other healthcare activities for pregnant women and lactating mothers.
We are not provided with any Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), and hence it’s scary to work in the field.
Also read: ASHA In The Time Of COVID-19
Q: Are you getting any extra monetary incentive for pandemic duty?
ASHA: From March to May, we received an amount of Rs. 1,000 per month. This amount was increased for the month of June and July to Rs. 2,000. We got the money in our bank accounts.
Q: What is it that you need to do your job better?
ASHA: I think we should be trained properly for the work that we are assigned. A lot of the times we are sent to the field without any training. We should also be given a respectable salary; our safety must be ensured.
Q: Can you think of an instance which has stayed with you or something which you have done that you are proud of?
ASHA: In the initial days, we were given the responsibility of house visits and identifying people with Coronavirus symptoms. I am proud of our efforts, and the way we completed that task! The Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister also recognised our role and appreciated us.
Also read: ASHA Workers’ Protest: How Primary Health Workers Continue To Be Denied…
The Inside Districts series was launched in April by research group Accountability Initiative (AI) at the Centre for Policy Research. The series has interviewed frontline workers and district and lower level government officials in five states.
For FII, these have been curated by Avantika Shrivastava, Senior Communications Officer at AI.