Over 100 village heath nurses protested on the Directorate of Public Health premises in Teynampet on Thursday. They wanted the government to fulfil 20 demands, including better work conditions.
There are around 1,510 primary health centres and 8,670 sub-centres in Tamil Nadu and 10,500 village health nurses work in these centres. On Thursday, a number of them from different parts of the State gathered to air their woes to senior health department officials.
“We are responsible for ensuring the health of villagers, especially women and children. We are also deployed for health surveys and immunisation programmes. Most of us are women and are overburdened with work,” said P. Nirmala, president, Tamil Nadu Village Health Nurses Association.
Apart from identifying pregnant women, who are in high risk categories, the nurses said they have to travel hundreds of kilometres to find out the cause if a woman dies at childbirth. “Apart from our regular work, we also have to do the work of a sweeper at health centres,” she said.
The nurses claim that apart from all the work, they are also overburdened with the filling of online forms pertaining to the Dr. Muthulakshmi Reddy Maternity Benefit Scheme to help women in the villages.
She said another worrying issue was that electricity bills and rent have to be footed by village health nurses. “We have to first pay the bills and then claim them. We have not got the bills reimbursed for the past 10 years,” she claimed.
The nurses feel that such treatment is meted out to them just because they are women. “We want the government to look into our plight and act upon it,” said Ms. Nirmala.
Contract nurses protest
Nearly 200 contract nurses from various districts across the State working in government healthcare facilities staged a protest at the Directorate of Medical and Rural Health Services on Thursday.
The nurses are demanding regularisation of their service, timescale salaries and eight-hour work shifts, said a press release from the Doctors’ Association for Social Equality, which is supporting the protest.
G. Ravindranath, general secretary of the association, said there were a total of 9,000 contract nurses. He said they were often made to work 12-hour shifts at low pay. However, later in the day, the protest was withdrawn, he said, as the government agreed to hold talks with their representatives on November 22.