Brochure: Joint demands of the Community Health Workers [English]

This brochure [in English] outlines the joint demands of the Community Health Workers across South Asia to assert their labour rights. It was developed to support the a campaign to recognise “Community Health Work is Work” on the Universal Health Coverage Day on 12 December 2020.

Community Health Workers (CHWs) play a critical role in providing primary health care, providing information and raising awareness, and facilitating access to public health care to hundreds of millions of rural people. In South Asia, and other parts of the world, Community Health Workers — who are also known as Accredited Social Health Activists or ASHAs in India, Lady Health Workers in Pakistan and Female Community Health Volunteers in Nepal — are almost entirely women who are expected to do this vital work without being recognised as public health workers and without the payment of adequate wages. CHWs, in all countries except Pakistan, are denied the right to receive a minimum wage.

CHWs currently face the risk of contracting COVID-19 through their work but are perversely denied health and life insurance as well as pensions. Governments have recognised CHWs as “warriors against COVID-19” yet have routinely failed to provide adequate PPE, training, wages or support. Their repeated requests for provision of safety kits, masks and sanitisers during the COVID-19 door-to-door visits and surveys has been denied by the authorities. Unions representing CHWs have documented a range of threats and violations experienced during the pandemic. CHWs are facing heightened risks of infection and enduring long working hours, psychological distress, fatigue, occupational burnout, discrimination and physical and psychological harassment. Many CHWs have reported not being paid during the pandemic.

With increased risks of exposure to the virus, the pandemic has illustrated that precarious work is a threat to public health.

CHW unions have worked with the Global Union Federation, Public Services International, to develop the demands and launch the campaign ahead of the International Day for Universal Health Coverage.

For more information visit our "Community Health Work is Work" campaign page.