GUWAHATI, April 30 - Basically her duty is to act as a health educator and a promoter in her community, but in the time of medical emergency, she has become a multi-tasker and apart from her duty, she is training others on mask-making.
�In the beginning, when the State government started applying various preventive measures to contain the coronavirus, I faced a lot of issues. Many people complained that they were not in a position to buy masks as it is not easily available. Then I started the training session along with my duty,� Manjuara Begum, Accredited Social Health Activist (ASHA) from Kharupetia, told The Assam Tribune.
It may be noted here that at present the ASHA workers are working round-the-clock in every nook and corner of Assam to contain the disease. Practically, they are the frontline warriors in the battle against coronavirus.
She said initially she went through several tutorial videos on how to prepare home-made masks available on YouTube and then started the door-to-door training initiative.
�I got a very good response from everyone whom I had taught the techniques of mask-making. Now everyone is using hand-made masks,� Begum said.
But everything is not going well on the ground. Many ASHA workers from different parts of the state while talking to The Assam Tribune informed that in the time of COVID-19 pandemic, other non-corona patients, especially pregnant women, have been facing a lot of difficulties in accessing proper and timely medical service.
�During the lockdown hours, it becomes impossible for pregnant women in my area to avail proper nutrition. The poor section, especially, has been suffering a lot. It will cause a long-term effect in the society, as their babies will be born with a weak immune system,� an ASHA worker from Darrang district said.
She also informed that due to non-availability of 108-ambulance service on time, it has become a challenge for them to take a pregnant woman to a nearby hospital during the time of delivery amid the lockdown.
�Recently, I transported two pregnant women to a nearby hospital by using a bike. Though it was very risky, I was left with no other option,� she said.
Another ASHA worker working in a tea garden area in Jorhat district informed that in her locality, people are still worried about the disease and there is a need to carry out extensive mass awareness campaigns. �My locality has around 172 households and most of them are tea garden workers. Amid the lockdown, they are mainly facing scarcity of food,� she alleged.
Meanwhile, two ASHA workers working in Mangaldai and Majuli, stated that they have been facing comparatively less issues during the time of medical emergency than those who are working in the rural areas.
Another ASHA worker from Majuli alleged that pregnant women in her area are at high risk as they are being deprived of proper nutrition.
�As we are living in the Kokrajhar-Dhubri border area, the danger is still there. Despite the health issues, our people are also facing scarcity of essential commodities, as most of them are daily wage labourers. Again, from the beginning of the lockdown, pregnant women have been facing a serious issue of nutrition deficiency,� an ASHA worker from Kokrajhar district said.