Odisha ASHA worker Matilda Kullu fought Covid, superstition to enter Forbes Power list

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Express News Service

ROURKELA:  It was yet another busy day for Sundargarh-based ASHA worker Matilda Kullu who was ignorant of the fact that she has made it to the Forbes India’s W-Power 2021 list for her work during the Covid-19 outbreak in Odisha.

Oblivious of the media attention, the 45-year-old ASHA worker spent the Saturday attending a vaccination programme, sector meeting, doorstep health checkup of newborns and other routine works. Donning the roles of a health worker, counsellor and motivator for Gargadbahal and villages nearby under Bargaon block of Sundargarh district since 2005, Matilda has stood by one and all during the difficult times of Covid-19 to save precious lives.

For her dedication and achievement, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik congratulated the ASHA worker. “I congratulate Matilda Kullu, ASHA worker from Bargaon tehsil of Sundargarh district on being named in Forbes India W-Power 2021 list. She represents thousands of dedicated Covid Warriors who are at the forefront to save precious lives”, he tweeted.

She has also been felicitated by the local administration for her exemplary services in the fight against Covid-19.  Even after being infected with the coronavirus during the second wave, Matilda resumed her duties after a fortnight and did not hesitate to work for additional hours.

“When the country shut down after the Covid outbreak and people remained indoors, it became our duty to take people with symptoms for Covid test, ensure that they take medicines and isolate themselves. Our primary responsibility now is to vaccinate all”, she says. At a time when villagers resorted to traditional cures including sorcery and black magic, Matilda and her likes took upon themselves to make people understand the importance of medical care and succeeded.  “It was only possible through several years of awareness camps about the ills of black magic. People are less superstitious now but it will take some years more to root out the practice”, she says.

Apart from creating awareness among villagers on health services, her duties include medical care for pregnant women and nursing mothers, antenatal/postnatal check-ups, immunisation, sanitisation, promoting hygiene, administering polio and other vaccines, conducting surveys and so on. Although the monthly Rs 6,000 incentive does not suffice in meeting her family’s basic needs, this has never discouraged her from carrying out her responsibilities towards people at the grassroots.  Sundargarh chief district medical officer Dr SK Mishra said ASHAs are the backbone of rural healthcare and Matilda is an inspiration for all of them.



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