Telangana Finance and Health Minister Harish Rao on Monday, 5 June, announced that Accredited Social Health Activists (ASHAs) in the state would now be entitled to maternity leave with pay, aligning them with other women employees.
This decision was taken during a monthly review meeting, where Rao acknowledged the crucial role ASHAs and Auxiliary Nurse Midwives (ANMs) played in delivering quality medical services to people at the grassroot level.
The minister said that the government was grateful for the services rendered by ASHAs, and emphasised Telangana’s commitment to providing the highest salaries to these dedicated healthcare workers in the country.
“Previously, ASHAs protested and demonstrated to secure wage hikes and timely remuneration. However, since the formation of Telangana, significant improvements have been made, with wages being increased threefold. Currently, ASHAs receive a monthly salary of ₹9,750, while their counterparts in states governed by BJP and Congress receive only ₹4,000-5,000,” said Rao.
He also said he has asked Health Secretary SAM Rizvi and Family Welfare Commissioner Shweta Mahanthi to conduct a comprehensive study on implementing maternity leaves with pay for ASHAs and ANMs.
The findings of the study are expected to be presented in a detailed report, demonstrating the government’s commitment to recognising and safeguarding the well being of these frontline healthcare workers.
‘Need to further enhance government hospitals’
Telangana Health Day, a celebration of the state’s progress in the healthcare sector over the past nine years, will be held on 14 June.
Rao invited everyone to participate in this event and contribute to its success. He said that the occasion aimed to showcase the outstanding achievements of Telangana’s healthcare sector across various departments, highlighting the transformative impact on the lives of its citizens.
The minister shared a significant milestone, highlighting the progress made in government hospitals, particularly in the domain of deliveries.
In April, Telangana’s government hospitals achieved a record, with 69 percent of all deliveries taking place within their premises. This marked a substantial increase compared to the 30 percent reported in 2014.
The Sangareddy, Narayanpet, Medak, and Jogulamba Gadwal districts received a special commendation for their outstanding performance, boasting delivery rates ranging from 81 percent to 87 percent.
The minister emphasised the need to further enhance government hospitals as the preferred choice for childbirth. Efforts will be concentrated in districts where the proportion of government hospital births is lower than the state average.
He specifically mentioned the 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 will conduct a week-long field observation, followed by the implementation of appropriate measures to ensure safer and more accessible birthing options for women.
The minister also instructed the joint director of the Immunisation Department to visit the Suryapet district, where immunisation rates are low, and take necessary steps to improve the situation.
The 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 stressed the importance of enhancing health services provided at sub-centres. A total of 53 sub-centres were identified as offering services at a minimum level, and measures will be taken to improve their condition. To ensure the availability of essential medicines, the distribution will 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-centre and PHC levels, ensuring the delivery of quality medical services through field-level inspections.