As the Coronavirus pandemic sweeps through India, districts are being tapped by the government for timely detection and reporting of cases, and prevention. Our ‘Inside Districts’ series will feature interviews of district and Block-level officials, panchayat functionaries and frontline workers to understand their challenges and best practices.
The Accountability Initiative at the Centre for Policy Research is currently operational in five Indian states. For part 14 of the series, our field staff spoke with an Auxillary Nurse Midwife (ANM) in Satara, Maharashtra.
The interview was originally conducted in Hindi on 9 April 2020, and has been translated.
Auxiliary Nurse Midwife is a village-level female health worker working in the village Health Sub-centre, and is the first contact person between the community and the health services. ANMs are expected to be multi-purpose health workers playing a critical role in maternal and child health including immunisations, family planning services, and treatment of minor injuries and first aid in emergencies and disasters. As per the Rural Health Statistics 2019, there are a total of 2,34,220 ANMs across Sub-centres and Public Health Centres in the country.
Q: When did you first get to know about COVID-19?
ANM: I got to know about it in January via television and social media. We were also informed by our department Taluka Health Officer (THO is a Block-level official).
Q: What are your COVID-19 related tasks?
ANM: We along with the ASHA and Anganwadi workers are identifying people who are coming from outside. For this, we are surveying the villages and sending information to the THO office. We also have to update the office regularly about the people who have been home quarantined. If someone has a fever, we need to call 108 and send them to the district hospital.
Q: Are you encountering any challenges?
ANM: The area of my sub-centre is very large and the workers are very few in number and hence it is getting difficult. The good thing is that despite a lot of responsibilities, ASHA workers and everyone else are working efficiently.
Some part of our area also comes under urban and we are facing problems there. People are hiding information and are not cooperating with us. They don’t let us come inside their apartments.
Q: Have you observed shortages?
ANM: We received masks for all our essential workers on 22 March from the department.
Things are still available in my area but the prices have slightly increased. The price of mutton has increased drastically. Ration and vegetables are also expensive.