Asha workers reel under stress as Telangana witnesses steep spike in Covid cases
To make matters worse, many of these workers are also being forced to put up with insufficient protective gear and also to venture out to do survey for diseases.
HYDERABAD: With Telangana witnessing a sharp rise in Covid-19 cases and a majority of the patients being advised home isolation, stress on Asha workers is increasing by the day. Around 3,000 to 3,500 Accredited Social Health Activists (Asha) working in the GHMC limits are being stretched to the limit as they are being forced divide their time between keeping a tab on positive cases under home isolation and taking up survey of positive cases in the local areas.
They are also required to meet routine targets of immunisations and hospital deliveries. Presently there are 3,800 active cases across the State to be managed, a majority of them are in the GHMC limits. This is further suffocating the Asha workers.“For the last two weeks, each worker is covering nearly 100 houses a day,” said M Meena, district secretary and in-charge of Anganwadi teachers in Hyderabad.Earlier, the workload of each Asha worker used to be just 25 to 30 houses.
To make matters worse, many of these workers are also being forced to put up with insufficient protective gear and also to venture out to do survey for diseases, knowing that community spread is present.“In areas where I have been visiting, they have either not locked the containment zone with barricades or have not put the bars altogether. People move freely because the government is not doing home delivery of essentials. So to even buy milk, they step out and infect more number of people,” added another worker from Chandrayangutta.
At least five Asha workers in Hyderabad district have tested positive for Covid-19 and all their colleagues working in the same UPHC have been quarantined, further paralysing the already fragile system.Experts say that if the government does not have a robust system in place to ensure that the positive patients stay indoors and do not infect others in the family, the State may be in for a major crisis.
“There are several people who are asymptomatic without even having a mild cold. Since there is no sense of sickness, they may be prompted to venture out and infect more. The State government has to put in place a proper mechanism to counsel these patients regularly to stay indoors. A day to day call, giving them adequate material, training of family members is crucial,” said a public health expert.
Meanwhile, Asha workers in the State are demanding that the State government fix a basic pay. “Presently our earnings are dependent on how many institutional deliveries and how many immunisations we conduct. This should change,” said P Jayalakshmi, State president of the Ashwa workers union.