On 23rd November on Mitanin Diwas, Mitanin groups and Jan Swasthya Abhiyan Chhattisgarh submitted memorandums to the Health Minister and the Chief Minister, demanding better pay and working conditions. Mitanins are community health workers who are considered to be volunteers and not workers within the health system. They are paid incentive-based payments that do not compensate for the huge amount of work that they do. The Mitanin Programme started in 2002 and provided learnings for the national ASHA programme that was introduced under the National Rural Health Mission in 2005. There are more than 69,000 Mitanins (ASHAs) working in rural and urban areas of Chhattisgarh. The Mitanins have been widely recognised for their work on prevention and treatment of communicable diseases like malaria and reduction of infant mortality and child malnutrition rates in Chhattisgarh.
The Mitanins met the Health Minister on video call and reiterated their demands. The Minister has assured them that the promises of the Jan Ghoshna Patra will be kept and their demands will be met. The memorandum submitted is attached with photographs.
The demands in English are as follows:
1. Chhattisgarh government should honour the promise made in the Jan Ghoshna Patra of giving Rs. 5000 to Mitanins in addition to monthly incentives.
2. The central government has directed states to give Rs. 1000 per month as Covid incentive to all ASHAs. Chhattisgarh is the only state where this incentive has not been given to the Mitanins (ASHAs) from June 2020 onwards. This amount should be immediately given to the Mitanins.
3. Mitanins do a lot of work on prevention of diarrhea, fever, cough and cold, pneumonia, dengue, jaundice etc. They also treat a large number of patients and undertake numerous tasks for spreading awareness in the community. However Mitanins are not given any incentives for all this work. Government should design incentives for all these tasks and provide them to the Mitanins.
4. As Mitanins are considered as volunteers, the administration should not give us any order, especially related to survey or filling forms. This needs to be made clear to health and other departments, district administration and block administration.
5. Mitanins are doing community surveillance for Covid-19. Government should provide an adequate number of masks and sanitizer to Mitanins for this work.
6. Mitanins and their family members should receive social security benefits like pensions, provident fund, and free health services.
7. Government should ensure that health staff in government hospitals should behave well with the Mitanins and treat us with respect. A grievance redressal system for the Mitanins should be set up.
The issues of waiting rooms for Mitanins near hospitals, payment of pending incentives, and regular supply of medicines to Mitanins were also brought up in the conversation with the Health Minister.