Patna:Thousands of contractual health workers in Bihar have gone into home isolation on Wednesday in agreement with their nine-point demands.The move is likely to hit the ongoing COVID-19 testing and vaccination process in the state.
Nearly 27,000 contractual health workers, under the banner of the Bihar Rajya Swasthya Samvida Karmi Sangh decided to go into home isolation in view of the state government’s apathy. They said the government had ignored their demands for a long period of time.
The Sangh has threatened that contractual health workers will remain under home isolation till their demands were fulfilled. Sangh secretary Lalan Singh said that contractual health workers are planning on submitting a collective resignation.
During the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, from government-run COVID dedicated hospitals to Sadar hospitals at district headquarters, referral hospitals at the subdivision, block level and primary health centres, contractual workers have more than played an active role in managing the disease.
They have been assisting COVID-19 patients from registration to the screening process; even in the sealing of a COVID-19 positive corpse.”Contractual health workers are underpaid but despite that, they have been risking their lives to help in the treatment of patients.The government has neglected them so far,” Singh said.
The Sangh leaders said they have submitted letters to the government on multiple occasions about their demands, but stressed that nothing had happened so far. "We have been forced to go into home isolation to exert pressure for the fulfilment of our demands. We had informed all district civil surgeons and other district health officials about our decision of home isolation from May 12,” he added.
The contractual health workers demands include increasing their honorarium by revising their salaries, Rs 50 lakh as health insurance, family pension and that other benefits be provided to them.
According to the Sangh, all contractual health workers posted at district-level to primary health centres on May 10 – through a memorandum submitted to district health officials – informed state health officers that they would go into home isolation from May 12 as most of them had come in contract with COVID-19 patients during work hours. Despite being informed, no attention was paid, the Sangh said.
Singh said that the government should treat them at par with other working employees. "We are risking our lives by directly being involved in COVID-19 treatment, testing and vaccination, both in rural and urban areas. If a contractual health worker dies after being infected during work, he or she should be provided insurance and other help as their family members are solely dependent on them," he added.
Bihar has 1,02,099 active COVID-19 cases as of Tuesday, with 10,920 new cases reported. Much to the state's relief, its recovery rate has risen to 82%. In the last 24 hours more than 72 people lost their lives to COVID-19 with 989 people from the state officially succumbing to the disease this month.