Selfless Service For Minimum Pay
Forbes India|January 15, 2021
ASHA workers such as Vinimol and Indu in Kerala have been the foot soldiers in the fight against Covid-19, and yet not acknowledged enough
Manu Balachandran

Vinimol still remembers that evening in May.

For many days, the 43-year-old had been visiting a sexagenarian who had been quarantined at home along with her family in Thiruvananthapuram, after testing positive for Covid-19. Since it was a mild case, she didn’t need to be hospitalised.

Vinimol is an ASHA (Accredited Social Health Activist) worker, who acts as an interface between the community and the public health system. India has over 1 million ASHA workers who were drafted in to provide health care support service during the Covid-19 crisis.

“We are the lowest rung of the health care infrastructure, and we get paid the least,” says Vinimol. “It hurts us that we are paid so little. That said, one evening after the patient had recovered, with folded hands and tears in her eyes, she told me that God will bless me for the work I was doing. I was in tears and that itself was gratifying. No amount of money can give that satisfaction.”

Vinomal earns just ₹7,000 as monthly salary, ₹5,000 as an honorarium, and ₹2,000 as an incentive, and has 919 homes in Thiruvananthapuram to look after. That means, during the lockdown, she had to visit these homes, enquire about quarantined household members, ensure they didn’t break their quarantine, bring medicines and supplies to those who had tested positive for the coronavirus, in addition to taking care of those with palliative needs.

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