New Delhi: 45-year-old Rahamath, Accredited Social Health Activist or ASHA worker has been working tirelessly in the slums of Bengaluru for the last seven years. Rahamath and her team of ASHA workers ensure the underprivileged have better access to healthcare services. ASHA workers are the backbone of the primary health system and also a bridge between health services and communities across every part of India.
People in the slums are not educated. We motivate them, but it is still a challenge. We go from house to house, enquire about their health, and immediately inform the doctors if there’s a problem. But sometimes, they don’t take our advice and that is challenging, she tells NDTV.
Rahamath carries out her duties in GD Mara, the biggest slum in Bengaluru, which houses around 3,000 families. Trained in various aspects of healthcare, Rahamath performs a number of tasks here, such as helping pregnant women in their delivery, carrying out vaccination of children and maintaining a diary with details of births and deaths in the designated area of her work.
Chandramma, a housekeeper and beneficiary of Rahamath tells NDTV,
We first make our call to the ASHA worker for whatever health issues we face, before going to the doctor.
Rahamath says their work is physically exhausting and draining, but their commitment to give better healthcare access to the less privileged is what keeps her going.
Of the roughly one million ASHA workers in the country, Karnataka has about 42,000. The long hours of work, physical exhaustion, irregular pay and having to overcome a lack of awareness and co-operation are only part of the challenges that they face.
From putting in strenuous hours in their job to ensuring that they spend their time especially in the households in the slum areas, ensuring these people take their medicines and also take their advice seriously. Thats the most challenging work as far as ASHA worker’s work on ground is concerned.
These ASHA workers also come in contact with transmissible diseases and put themselves at risk of ill-health due to prolonged exposure, as happened during the pandemic. These circumstances make the work they do all the more remarkable, as they are the backbone of the primary health system and the connect between health services and communities across every part of India.
NDTV – Dettol have been working towards a clean and healthy India since 2014 via the Banega Swachh India initiative, which is helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan. The campaign aims to highlight the inter-dependency of humans and the environment, and of humans on one another with the focus on One Health, One Planet, One Future – Leaving No One Behind. It stresses on the need to take care of, and consider, everyone’s health in India – especially vulnerable communities – the LGBTQ population, indigenous people, India’s different tribes, ethnic and linguistic minorities, people with disabilities, migrants, geographically remote populations, gender and sexual minorities. In wake of the current COVID-19 pandemic, the need for WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) is reaffirmed as handwashing is one of the ways to prevent Coronavirus infection and other diseases. The campaign will continue to raise awareness on the same along with focussing on the importance of nutrition and healthcare for women and children, fight malnutrition, mental wellbeing, self care, science and health, adolescent health & gender awareness. Along with the health of people, the campaign has realised the need to also take care of the health of the eco-system. Our environment is fragile due to human activity, which is not only over-exploiting available resources, but also generating immense pollution as a result of using and extracting those resources. The imbalance has also led to immense biodiversity loss that has caused one of the biggest threats to human survival – climate change. It has now been described as a “code red for humanity.” The campaign will continue to cover issues like air pollution, waste management, plastic ban, manual scavenging and sanitation workers and menstrual hygiene. Banega Swasth India will also be taking forward the dream of Swasth Bharat, the campaign feels that only a Swachh or clean India where toilets are used and open defecation free (ODF) status achieved as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014, can eradicate diseases like diahorrea and the country can become a Swasth or healthy India.