From the Village People to the Pregnant People

This one is some of each.

These female health-care workers won a huge WHO honor. They’d like a raise, too

India’s task force of over a million female health-care workers has won a prestigious award from one of the highest institutions in global health.

But their pay remains insultingly low.

Ghugare works as an ASHA, short for Accredited Social Health Activists. It’s a program run by India’s Ministry of Health and Family Welfare that provides health care to rural and low-income communities in the country. They are not medical professionals but are entrusted with a long list of crucial health-care responsibilities, from advising new mothers about breastfeeding to raising awareness about COVID vaccines.

They earn around $60 a month on average and have few benefits. In recent years, the government has raised monthly pay by a few tens of dollars, but workers say this is still too low. Many ASHAs, as the workers are known, and those in the global health community hope this moment can put pressure on the government to bump up their salaries, among other job improvements.

When the ASHA program began in 2005, the health workers were envisaged as volunteers working about 2 to 3 hours a day and a bit extra on some days, according to the National Health Mission, a program that’s part of India’s Ministry of Health. But over the years, ASHAs say their responsibilities have increased multifold.

At the peak of the coronavirus pandemic, Archana Ghugare says she was working 14 hours a day. And even today, she’s got a full workload. She’s been going door-to-door to identify people in the community who have a variety of medical needs, from pregnant people to kids under the age of 14 eligible for COVID vaccinations.

Pregnant people. Even in a story about exploited women, the Pregnant People have to raise their buzzcut heads.

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