The death of Accredited Social Health Activist (ASHA) Khalida in Sheeri area of Baramulla district of Covid-19 has shaken the ASHA workers who despite inadequate incentives are the face of vaccination drive across rural Kashmir.
Khalida, 38, contracted the virus while battling the Covid-19 on the ground and succumbed to the deadly virus just two days after her admission at Government Medical College Baramulla on Friday.
Khalida was working as an ASHA worker since last 10 years at Public Health Centre, Sheeri.
Hailing from Reasi area of Jammu division, Khalida was married to Ghulam Nabi Dar at Banpora Sheeri.
She is survived by her husband and two children.
As per her colleagues, Khalida was instrumental in carrying the vaccination drive in Sheeri.
They said that despite hardships like less incentives, she was optimistic that one day her hard work would be recognised and she would get respectable wages.
"Whenever she was asked to carry any health programme, she would energise every ASHA worker for the task. She was a role model for all the ASHA workers in the area," said Gulshan, Khalida's colleague.
The death of Khalida has left ASHA workers pained and distressed. The ASHA workers are working on an incentive of Rs 2000 per month for several years.
"Her death has left us shaken. Despite being part of world's most aggressive vaccination campaign, our efforts are counted nowhere. And when we lose our lives during the vaccination campaign, there is none to take care of our families," said Jameela, an ASHA worker.
Most of the ASHA workers complain that they do not get adequate protection while performing in pandemic.
They said that their lives were at risk because of less protection while working in pandemic.
"Despite an order from the Ministry of Health and Family Eelfare, directing states to ensure ASHA workers get additional incentives for Covid-19 related work and provide them with safety equipment to carry on their duties, nothing has been done on the ground," said Masooda Begum, another ASHA worker.
The ASHA workers in addition to their regular work of assisting deliveries, carrying immunisation drives and several other health programmes, are now at the forefront in the battle against Covid-19.
Demanding compensation for the deceased family of Khalida, the ASHA workers said that her work in the pandemic should be recognised by the government by duly compensating the deceased family.
"The ASHA workers are working relentlessly but our contribution is not recognised. We are not even paid wages as per the administration's own wage laws. We hope that the sacrifice of Khalida does not go in vain," said Gulshan, another ASHA worker.