Female community health volunteers in baitadi fret over ‘paltry’ remunerationThe volunteers complain they are yet to get due recognition, perks, and facilities for their work.
“We take pregnant women for regular check-ups and infants for polio drops,” she said. “We have a big responsibility.”
Bhattarai, however, lamented that Female Community Health Volunteers such as herself are yet to get due recognition, perks, and facilities for their work from the government.
“We have been working towards providing service every day, sacrificing our personal life,” she said. “But it’s hard to make a living with the remunerations we get.”
Harina Bohara of the Giruda Tole has also been working as a Female Community Health Volunteer since 1990. She collects health-related data of her municipality and submits it to the health post. She checks on pregnant women and postpartum mothers ensuring their regular check-ups.
Bohara shares fellow health volunteer Bhattarai’s sentiments, saying that the government has done little to help reward them. The government provides us with Rs7,000 every year as “uniform expense”, Bohara said. “This is not enough. We expect more facilities.”
Each of the total of 831 active female health volunteers in Baitadi has the same complaint: the government’s apathy towards them.
Santosh Pandey, an assistant at the district health post, said that Female Community Health Volunteers are not salaried employees and that their work is “volunteering”.
“Women health volunteers have contributed much, helping improve the district’s health service,” said Pandey. “But despite that, they are not salaried workers.”
Pandey said that the government increased the uniform expense to Rs10,000 last year, and it is likely to see a yearly increase. The provincial government also provides some amount as encouragement, he said.
“Even though local units do not allocate money as salary, they disburse some amount under headings such as lunch and transportation,” said Pandey.
Madan Singh Mahara, the health coordinator at Patan Municipality, said his office has made efforts to help out female health volunteers. “Things have changed since the local unit elections,” said Mahara.
“In the first year, we distributed bags and torches. Last year, we provided Rs3,000 each as encouragement. We have allocated Rs600,000 for them this year too. The amount will be distributed under the headings of lunch and transportation.”
But Bohara said volunteers like her deserve more facilities and benefits for their work. “We have sacrificed our lives for society’s good,” she said. “We too have our families and mouths to feed.”