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'Tasks have been Ongoing, Non-Stop'

Q: What kind of work are you doing these days?

ASHA: We are going house-to-house to screen people. Teams have been made with an ASHA, Auxilary Nurse Midwife (ANM), a doctor and some Block-level officers.

Each team has to oversee multiple villages so there is quite a bit of work. From morning to night we go house-to-house. I also assist in making sure that Section 144 enforcement is being followed.

Additionally, I have been assigned night duty at one of the Primary Health Centres where people are quarantined because the ANM who was there is quite old and she herself is at risk. The Chief Medical Health Officer (CMHO) requested me to take over her work.

They know I do my work well, so my name always comes up when there is extra or important work to do. All of these tasks have been going on non-stop for the past two months. It is exhausting. But I am okay with it, I have to do this work for my country.

Q: Do you have protective equipment?

ASHA: Some masks were given by the CMHO, and I have also bought several for myself. I have got myself gloves also as it is risky for us to make personal contact with so many people on a daily basis. We keep asking for protective equipment, and they are giving it to us but sometimes the process is slow.

My family members are helping me to take extra precautions. My brother is an advocate and can read English, so he has been looking up all the guidelines and giving me the latest information.

Q: How has the screening exercise been going?

ASHA: So far we have found two positive cases. The patients and their families have been quarantined in the hospital in the district headquarters. One of the villages, where a positive case was found, has been sealed.

These cases were just found in the past week.

Q: Have those who were working as migrant labour returned to their villages?

ASHA: Yes, people have been streaming in. Every time a new group comes, we have to screen them and give them information about prevention. But now work is going to increase even more. The labourers who worked in other states have not been able to return to their villages yet [as on 4 May 2020], but now that will also start. We will have to be extra careful!

Q: Are routine activities such as immunisation ongoing?

ASHA: No, all immunisations and Antenatal Care activities have stopped. The Anganwadi Centre (AWC) is also closed. The food that was otherwise distributed at the AWC is being dropped off to people’s households by the Anganwadi worker on a weekly basis.

This interview was conducted with an ASHA worker in Rajasthan on 4 May 2020 in Hindi, and has been translated.

Source: Deccan Herald

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