A large section of ASHA workers in Assam have boycotted vaccine drive against Covid-19 protesting against discrimination.
Their grouse is poor remuneration for the risks they have been exposed to during the peak of the pandemic last year.
Anupama Ray, an ASHA worker posted at the Bajalpur check post in Dhubri district in western Assam, was responsible for checking the health status of migrant workers returning home. Her duty was to be there at the check post from early morning. Though a frontline worker, she had no PPE kit for protection against the virus, reported Times of India.
According to senior officials from the health department, they told her to be alert round the clock and to isolate those returnees who showed symptoms of the disease. Anupama spent sleepless nights monitoring the ‘outsiders’ to her Bahalpur-Boropara village in Dhubri, which sends thousands of workers to various parts of the country to work in industries like real estate and construction.
Now that the vaccine has arrived and the government has prioritised health workers as the first group for inoculation, Anupama and others are turning away.
About 20,000 ASHA workers affiliated to the Sadou Asom Asha Karmi Santha ceased to work in Assam from January 6, demanding appointment letters and a minimum incentive of Rs 10,000 per month.
Anupama, the secretary of one of the influential associations of ASHA workers in the state, threatened that they would boycott the vaccination drive if the government failed to talk to them before January 20.