‘We Don't Get Any Leave’

Q: During the past several months, you have been involved with pandemic-related work. Can you give a brief overview of what your pandemic and non-pandemic duties were?


Auxiliary Nurse Midwife (ANM): Currently, we are carrying out both pandemic and non-pandemic duties. I am going to the field, doing surveys, and conducting sessions. Routine immunisation and antenatal care is taking place as usual. Our centre is also open. I have to take care of two centers. One is near my residence and the other one is quite far away.


Q: What has motivated you to come to work and carry out your activities during the pandemic?


ANM: The government pays us to do this job so we cannot neglect it. We work with full dedication. People appreciate our work, they say that “ANM madam is doing good work”. It feels good to be appreciated, it motivates us.


I myself am a 56-year-old diabetic, so I am always afraid of getting the virus and infecting my family members as well. Even if I don’t want to work, what can I do? We need to work and help patients.


In my area, most of the health workers are above 50 years of age, even our Block Medical Officer will retire in two years. So when everyone else is working, I have to work too.


The workload has increased now. Earlier we had to work with TB patients and pregnant women. Now COVID-19 survey has increased our workload. We don't get any leave either. I have been working for the last 9 months and have not used even one entitled leave.


Q: Have there been challenges to carrying out your work?


ANM: Arranging transport to go to the field is a challenge. I have reserved a car but it costs me around Rs. 2,000. My husband drops me at times, but he has his own work too. Sometimes I get a car from the health department, but that does not happen very frequently.


There is a shortage of healthcare staff in our area; we have six centres but only four ANMs. That is why I have been given an additional centre, which is very far.


There were many other problems in the field. People who came to the village from outside did not want to be identified. Once, they sent dogs after us so that we wouldn't enter their village. There was also an incident where an Anganwadi Worker team member was hit by a stone. She had to get stitches on her head.


Q. How did you overcome challenges that you faced?


ANM: Whenever we faced any challenge we reached out to our supervisor. The Medical Officer also came to the field sometimes and talked to people. We also contacted the Mahila Mandal members and the Gram Panchayat in case of problems.


This interview was conducted as a part of a research study funded by the Azim Premji University under the COVID-19 Research Funding Programme 2020. The study delves into the experiences of frontline workers in Rajasthan and Himachal Pradesh during the COVID-19 pandemic.


It was conducted with an Auxiliary Nurse Midwife in Kangra, Himachal Pradesh on 2 January 2021 in Hindi, and has been translated.

Source: The News Now


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