The Talkatora Stadium was colourful for three days as it absorbed the colour the nurses from across 25 states brought with them. The colours of their vibrant dresses added oomph to the Delhi’s Talkatora Stadium for three days.
A pretty nurse from Arunachal Pradesh was smiling at me for a photograph and I kind of found of my old age in her. She was happy to share her experiences with me. She shared how her career got stagnant since 30 years. She was appointed as an ANM and remains as ANM since 30 years. She showed her disappointment on the changing dress code of nurses in her state. She said that the nurses look good in white and they were the care givers and white colour gives them the feel of values of Florence Nightangle.
She said “it is heartening to see our ANMs come across from 25 states assembled here to discuss their problems and fight for their rights.” She said “We raise that we would not like to see us in the category of multipurpose health workers. This designation means, we are forced to do all the works of public health department. We are nurses and we demand our post should be called as Public Health Midwives”
Anjali Devi from Assam shared her happiness on serving the people at her sub-centre. She said that work of ANM is a continuous one and hard work goes into it and it involves identifying range of issues including anaemia to other critical condition in women. “It is quite a big and challenging responsibility. Sometimes we face abuses of community and senior officials” she added.
Kumari Indu shared her story of how she saved a life of woman and her newborn. She was posted in a very remote area in Jharkhand. One day she was called for an emergency case at middle of the night. When she reached there, she saw a woman was having severe pain after delivery. She checked and swabbed the private part of the woman and she saw that the women’s vagina was infested with worms. She asked the family to take the woman immediately to a hospital. The doctor of the hospital where the woman was treated said that the family should thank the nurse who sent the woman to the hospital. After one week of treatment the woman came home healthy and the family thanked Kumari Indu by giving her a treat. She proudly said “when community recognises our contribution and appreciate us we really feel proud”
Pooja Nagar from Madhya Pradesh shared her sufferings. She was humiliated and abused by one of her seniors and she complained and raised her voice against it to the higher authority. She was suspended from her job but she fought for her rights and at the end she was reinstate in the job.
Sushma from Madhya Pradesh shared her problems of sexual harassment, suspension, recurrent transfers over many years. She filed a case in the court and the decision is still pending and she hopes that she will get justice.
These are some of the stories of ANMs whom I met in the National Convention of ANMs. For the first time in India, the National Convention of ANMs was organised in Delhi. A total of 1500 ANMs assembled and discussed their issues with each other and they also put a demand charter. All the ANMs demand that there should be a regular post and a uniform salary structure across all the states. They demanded for four stage career progressions in their career.