Telangana govt announces paid maternity leave for ASHA workers

This decision was made during a monthly review meeting chaired by Harish Rao, during which he acknowledged the essential role of ASHAs and Auxiliary Nurse Midwives (ANMs)

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HYDERABAD: Telangana Finance and Health Minister Harish Rao on Monday announced paid maternity leave benefits for Accredited Social Health Activist (ASHAs) in the state, bringing them on par with other women employees.

This decision was made during a monthly review meeting chaired by Harish Rao, during which he acknowledged the essential role of ASHAs and Auxiliary Nurse Midwives (ANMs) in providing quality medical services to people at the grassroots level.

Chief Minister KCR hailed ASHAs' contributions and emphasised Telangana's commitment to paying the highest wages in the country to these dedicated healthcare professionals. In the past, ASHAs have used rallies and demonstrations to obtain wage increases and prompt remuneration.

However, following the establishment of Telangana, major changes were made, with earnings being tripled. ASHAs currently receive a monthly pay of Rs 9,750 but their counterparts in states run by the BJP and Congress receive barely 4 to 5 thousand rupees.

The minister asked Health Secretary Rizvi and Family Welfare Commissioner Shweta Mahanthi to carry out an in-depth study on the implementation of maternity leave with pay for ASHAs and second ANMs. The study's findings would probably be published in a detailed report, highlighting the government's commitment to recognising and protecting the well-being of these frontline healthcare workers.

Telangana Health Day, a big celebration of the state's outstanding accomplishments in healthcare over the last nine years, is set for June 14. Minister Harish Rao cordially welcomed everyone to attend and contribute to the success of this historic event. The event aims to highlight Telangana's excellent achievements in healthcare across several departments, highlighting the transformative influence on the lives of its residents.

Highlighting the remarkable progress made in government hospitals, particularly in the domain of deliveries, Minister Harish Rao shared a significant milestone. In April, Telangana's government hospitals achieved a historic record, with 69 percent of all deliveries taking place within their premises. This marks a substantial increase compared to the 30 percent reported in 2014. Sangareddy, Narayanpet, Medak, and Jogulamba Gadwal districts received special commendation for their outstanding performance, boasting delivery rates ranging from 81 to 87 percent.

Harish Rao emphasized the need to further enhance government hospitals as the preferred choice for childbirth. Efforts would be concentrated in districts where the proportion of government hospital births is lower than the state average.

The Minister specifically mentioned Karimnagar district, which requires attention to improve performance in various parameters and reduce the rate of cesarean sections. To address this issue, a team under the joint director of the maternity department would conduct a week-long field observation, followed by the implementation of appropriate measures to ensure safer and more accessible birthing options for women.

Additionally, the Minister asked the Joint Director of the Immunization Department to visit Suryapet districts, where immunization rates are low, and take necessary steps to improve the situation. Vanaparthi, Mahabubabad, Mahabubnagar, Warangal, and Suryapet districts, which currently rank last in overall maternal health performance, were urged to focus on making progress and elevating their healthcare standards.

The Minister also emphasized the importance of enhancing health services provided at sub-centers. A total of 53 sub-centers were identified as offering services at a minimum level, and measures would be taken to improve their condition. To ensure the availability of essential medicines, the distribution would be closely monitored, with a minimum stock of three months being maintained at Primary Health Centers (PHCs). District Medical and Health Officers (DMHOs) have been advised to conduct regular reviews at the sub-center and PHC levels, ensuring the delivery of quality medical services through field-level inspections.

During the teleconference, Health Secretary Rizvi, Family Welfare Commissioner Shweta Mahanthi, Director of Public Health Srinivasa Rao, and other medical officers were present, highlighting the collective commitment to enhancing healthcare services in Telangana.

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