The All India ASHA Workers Federation, a member of the All India Trade Union Congress (AITUC), today congratulated ASHA workers across the country on tributes paid to their work by the World Health Organisation (WHO).
The WHO has conferred the “Global Health Leaders” award for 2022 on India’s 10 lakh ASHA workers for their services during Covid-19. The ASHA workers share the award with five other recipients at the global level.
An ASHA worker is an Accredited Social Health Activist, a community health worker instituted by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare as a part of India’s National Rural Health Mission.
“WHO’s global plaudits go to prove the unmatched and immense contribution of the ASHA workers in primary health care services,” the workers’ federation said.
“We thank the World Health Organization for rightly conferring the award on the most deserving ASHA workers,” the ASHA federation said.
“At this juncture of joy, the supreme irony of sort blares at the bitter fact that these million workers are not even recognized as workers in India. No wages, except the paltry sum of Rs 2000 per month and the meagre incentives is all that they get,” the federation said.
For decades, the ASHA workers’ demand for regularisation of their services and defined minimum wages have fallen on deaf ears, Vahida Nizam, AITUC National Secretary, and All India ASHA Workers Federation leader said.
The WHO’s press statement on the occasion states that the award was bestowed on the ASHA workers for their crucial role in linking the community with the health system, to ensure that those living in rural poverty can access primary health care services, she said.
Besides, the fact that this award is granted in recognition of leadership, contribution to the advance of global health, and commitment to regional health issues, goes to vouchsafe the permanent nature of the work that the ASHA workers do, she said.
“The award may be attributed to their particular work during the pandemic which the ASHA workers did over and above their activities of maternal care, immunization of children, and community health care; their contribution in bringing down the MMR and IMR have been applauded by all governments time and again,” she said.
“But, as the saying goes, you don’t lead by lip service; you lead by example. That exemplary example may dawn now on the otherwise gloomy lives of the uncertainty of ASHA workers,” the ASHA federation said.
The All India ASHA Workers Federation of AITUC exhorts the union government to announce an equivalent return of compliment to the ASHA workers, she said.
“We hope that greetings of admiration translate into the reality of rendering justice to these ASHA workers. This is long overdue. We call upon the union government to immediately announce the most befitting award of permanency of jobs with Rs 18000 monthly salary to the ASHA workers who have brought laurels to the nation,” she said.