Over 35,000 National Health Mission employees on contract are on strike in the state since October 25, demanding permanent jobs.
About 3,000 of them have been demonstrating outside the Aundh District Civil Hospital. Around 11 unions have joined the strike. Besides implementing central government programmes, the strike has affected the immunisation of kids and tuberculosis programmes.
If this goes on for a long time, it could have serious public health consequences.
Earlier, the state health minister had verbally promised the National Health Mission (NHM) employees’ unions that their demands would be placed before the cabinet and a positive decision would be taken.
Representatives of 11 organisations held a meeting with the Health Commissioner in October, demanding that NHM contract workers receive job security as provided by the governments of Odisha, Manipur, Rajasthan, Punjab, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, and Madhya Pradesh.
Block accounts officer Harshal Ranware, also the state coordinator and Pune district chairperson of Rashtriya Aarogya Abhiyan Samayojan Kruti Samiti, said, “In Pune district alone, we have about 3,000 employees, of which 500 are doctors, 1,800 are nurses and others are lab technicians, pharmacists and clerical staff. We have been on strike outside the Aundh District Civil Hospital; work has been stopped since October 25. These employees mostly work on ANC checkups, routine immunisation, dialysis and emergency services. All these services have been affected. We are not satisfied with verbal promises and we have demanded that until the cabinet approves the proposal to make these employees permanent and provide equal pay, we will continue to be on strike.”
While essential services on ground have been affected, state health department officials reject the same. Dr Radhakishan Pawar, deputy director of Pune region’s state health department, said, “The strike has been on for the past few days, but has not affected any essential services as such.”