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Health award

Alipurduar, Dec. 20: A 46-year-old health assistant who has been working in Falakata block for the past 24 years has been chosen for the first Swastha Ratna award in the state.

Jagannath Sarkar, the chief medical officer of health, Jalpaiguri, said there were five criteria — attendance, performance, knowledge and behaviour towards people and colleagues — on which the candidates were rated.

Rita Roy, posted at the sub centre at Guabarnagar in Falakata, 42km from here, said today she heard the news from the block officials 10 days back. “When I heard that I had been selected, I could not believe it. The next day, the chief medical officer of health, Jalpaiguri, told me about it,” said the woman, who works at the sub centre for three days in a week and spends two days in villages spreading awareness of health, hygiene and sanitation. “I like my job, I like the people, especially children, and I am very close to them,” said the Subhaspally resident.

Rita has been working at Guabarnagar for the past 17 years. Before that, she worked as a health assistant at Tasati Tea Estate’s sub centre, also in Falakata, for seven years. Rita said sometimes she had to walk 7-8km a day. She added that her husband, a retired primary school teacher, had always encouraged her and he even accompanied her when she had to travel to faraway places.

“Earlier, villagers did not allow us inside their houses when we went for door-to-door campaigns. But now things have changed. Most babies are delivered at the centre and all children take polio drops. No one dies of TB or malaria in the villages,” Rita said.

Health assistants at the sub centres mostly take part in awareness campaigns. They also do preliminary check ups of patients and send them to the block centres if required.

“After deliveries, I take care of the mothers and the babies. I focus on sanitation in the village houses,” Rita said.

Chief medical officer Sarkar said: “I am really proud of her because it is not an easy task to achieve a state-level award from a remote village in Falakata. She has done a great job in the field of birth control.”

Names of the probable awardees were suggested from all blocks across the state.

“She (Rita) scored the highest marks not only in Jalpaiguri district but also in the entire state. She is very sincere,” he said.

Sarkar, however, could not say when the award would be given or what it would be.

When asked what was her message to her colleagues, Rita said: “My message to all other health assistants of the state is that if everyone works with sincerity and dedication, anyone can win such an award.”