PUNE: The Maharashtra government has assigned all Anganwadi and Accredited Social Health Activist (ASHA) workers the task of spreading awareness about coronavirus (COVID-19) and survey each family in rural areas. But these workers lack safety/hygiene gears like sanitizer, gloves and hand wash/soap -- essential items in the current scenario.
Anganwadi and ASHA workers come in contact with thousands of people during the awareness campaign, therefore, these workers have appealed to the Maharashtra government to provide necessary equipment for their safety.
"We are ready to work with the government in this situation of crisis, but the government has to provide Anganwadi sevikas with gloves, masks and sanitisers," said Shubha Shamim of Anganwadi Karmachari Sanghatana (Maharashtra).
How can we put our lives at risk like that? They need to provide all the necessary facilities. Soon, we will have to start door-to-door distribution of Take Home Ration (THR) to children and pregnant women. We will not be doing it unless provided with all the necessary hygiene products."
Although ASHA workers are provided masks, they are waiting for other products like gloves and sanitizers. “Everyone of us has masks, but we need sanitizers and gloves as well. We can’t keep using hand wash every time we visit a house. So sanitizers are feasible. We have appealed to the government for gloves and sanitizers, but they have stated that there is a shortage of these products,” said Supervisor in Pune district jurisdiction, Vidya Kamble.
There are about 3,000 ASHA workers in Pune district and each one of them has been assigned at least 1,000-1,500 houses to survey. “We have a mandatory target of surveying around 30-40 households daily. Our work has further doubled because a large number of people have returned to their villages from cities which are already affected by COVID-19,” she said.
“One of the challenges that our workers are facing is to get the people who show symptoms, checked at the hospital. They are refusing stating that they don’t have any health issues. Many aren’t allowed to even stand at their yards, because they think we might infect them. There are cases when ASHA workers had to again visit particular households as they got news of the arrival of news guests at home,” Kamble told Sakal Times.
However, villagers are maintaining social-distancing and abiding by the precautionary measures given by health ministry and medical officers. They aren’t believing in any social media forwards or superstitions, added Kamble.