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 ORIGINAL ARTICLE
Year : 2022  |  Volume : 26  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 157-164

How Covid-19 affected the work prospects and healthcare-seeking of women domestic workers in Kolkata City, India? A longitudinal study


1 Department of Community Medicine, Midnapore Medical College, Paschim Medinipur, West Bengal, India
2 Department of Community Medicine, Medical College, Kolkata, West Bengal, India
3 Department of General Medicine, Ramakrishna Mission Seva Pratishthan, Kolkata, West Bengal, India

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Shibaji Gupta
1C-1003, Avishikta 2, 369/3, Purbachal Kalitala Road, Kolkata - 700 078, West Bengal
India
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/ijoem.ijoem_346_21

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Background: Self-negligence, societal neglect, and lack of access to adequate health care make domestic workers vulnerable to ill-health. COVID-19 has adversely affected the work prospects of people across social classes and their health care-seeking opportunities as well. We studied the impact of COVID-19 pandemic on work prospects and health care-seeking behavior of a vulnerable section of the society – the women domestic workers. Methods: A longitudinal analysis on 292 randomly selected women domestic workers residing in slums of “Kalikapur” locality of Kolkata city, West Bengal (India). Data were collected using a predesigned and pretested schedule twice: in early-2020 (before severe impact of COVID-19) and mid-2020 (during the pandemic ravaging India). Paired t-test and McNemar's test were used to check for significant changes. Result: Of all the participants, 57.2% lost jobs partially while 2.7% were completely jobless in mid-2020; the average daily work-hour decreased by 25.7%. Their average monthly pay significantly reduced (P < 0.05); mean family income in mid-2020 was lesser as well, compared to earlier (P < 0.05). Compared to early-2020, 15.8% more participants were sole bread-winners for their families during COVID-19. Number of participants visiting health practitioners significantly reduced (P < 0.05) in mid-2020. Rise in over-the-counter medicine use (P < 0.05) and increased tendency to ignore symptoms (P < 0.05) during COVID-19 was noted. Conclusion: The COVID-19 pandemic has affected work prospects and health care-seeking behavior of women domestic workers negatively. Most of them faced wage reduction, many becoming sole-earners for their families. This necessitates continued formulation and implementation of strategies ensuring social benefits including healthcare. Awareness about affordable healthcare and ill-effects of bad practices like self-medication should also be built.






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