In the fight against Corona, there are many heroes from doctors to sanitation workers to supply workers to police. Among them, the health workers, especially ASHA (Accredited Social Health Activists) workers are playing a very important role.
On the Frontline
Even at the initial stages of the Corona outbreak in India, ASHA workers have played a significant role at the grassroots. For instance, before the lockdown when a person from urban area moved to the rural place where his parents or other families live, ASHA workers went door to door and made the families aware about the potential spread of the virus. They kept records of all those people came from the affected regions and ensured that the people undertook necessary precautions. ASHA workers regularly paid visit to such houses to check for any symptoms among people who migrated from the urban places.
When the pandemic advanced, they became part of the surveillance mechanism on the ground. While the majority of Indians behaved in a thankful manner, certain groups unfortunately indulged in targeting them while they had gone for contract tracing and sample collection. Thankfully, the government quickly acted and brought an Ordinance to end violence against health workers by amending the Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897, which will allow imprisonment from 6 months to 7 years for those found guilty.
The Work Done Before
Back in 2018, the Modi government strengthened ASHA and Anganwadi workers by ensuring them many social security benefits.
For ASHA workers, the routine activities renumeration of an estimated 10,22,265 workers was increased from ₹1,000/month to ₹2,000/month. They were given social security covers under Pradhan Mantri Jeevan Jyoti Bima Yojana, and Pradhan Mantri Suraksha Bima Yojana. You may read more about those measures in our article Emboldening Anganwadi & ASHA Network to Strengthen India’s Future.
Now in the fight against Corona, all health workers have been given special insurance coverage.
As mentioned earlier, law has been strengthened to award stricter punishment to those who attack health workers.
ASHA workers – The Task Ahead
The updated version of government’s containment plan refers to a prominent role of ASHA workers. Explaining how the surveillance needs to be carried in the zones that remain as containment area, the document says this:
“Active case search will be done through house-to-house visit. For such purpose, a designated health worker will visit on an average 50 households. The surveillance would be done by ASHAs, Aaganwadi workers and ANMs. Additional workforce can be drawn from Red Cross, NSS, NYK, & Ayush students”
ASHA workers are also expected to play a key role in the preventive measures through awareness among the public about the best practices. It reads:
“There will be intensive social mobilization among the population in geographic quarantine zone for adoption of community-wide practice of frequent washing of hands and respiratory etiquettes. The community will also be encouraged to self-monitor their health and report to the ASHA/Anganwadi worker visiting home or to nearest health facility.”
Thus, the nation owes much to this force which is evidently working relentlessly in containing the spread of the virus.