Asha workers: Frontline fight against Covid-19
Bulbuli Dey, an accredited social health activist (Asha) at Doomdooma first referral unit hospital in Tinsukia district of Upper Assam, is leading by example in the fight against Covid-19.
The 40-year-old is vulnerable, having donated one of her kidneys to her friend in 2017, and yet she goes about her duty full of energy and enthusiasm. Apart from her regular duties, she is going from door to door making people aware about Covid-19 and its norms like hand-washing/sanitising and social distancing, monitoring their health and taking care of those in home quarantine. “This is emergency time. We have to maintain social distancing but not emotional distancing. We live a successful life only when we care about other’s wellness,” Bulbuli said.
“She is an example for others,” said Dr Ranjit Das, senior medical officer of the hospital, saluting her work and spirit.
There are at least 33,000 Asha workers, engaged under the National Rural Health Mission, in Assam. Normally their duty is community development through healthcare awareness and immunisation programmes. They are voluntary workers who are given only incentives like Rs 1,000 per month for 13 activities and Rs 2,000 for eight other activities.
These primary frontline workers are, at present, also working round-the-clock to combat Covid-19. They give information about persons with travel history and coronavirus symptoms. They go door to door in their respective areas, visiting nearly 300 households everyday.
Manju Begum, an Asha worker here, said, “Sometimes, there is unnecessary harassment these days, both for police and health workers, because of fake news and rumours. I request people not to spread rumours.”
Tinsukia superintendent of police Shiladitya Chetia said case would be lodged against rumour-mongers and those who spread fake news under the IPC. Deputy superintendent of police Bitul Chetia said, “Law breakers will be dealt with strictly.”