New Delhi: In May 2022, World Health Organization (WHO) honoured India’s Accredited Social Health Activists or ASHAs with Global Health Leaders Award. They were among the six recipients of the award that recognised their outstanding contribution towards protecting and promoting health. To talk about the recognition that ASHA workers in India have received from WHO and the reason behind it, Dr Roderico Ofrin, WHO Representative to India, joined NDTV-Dettol Banega Swasth India Independence Day special episode – Saluting Bharat Ki ‘ASHA’.
Here are the highlights of what Dr Roderico Ofrin said on the special show:
- ASHA workers are the true champions of health, they bring primary healthcare to the doorsteps of people, especially the most vulnerable population.
- For many, particularly the women, children, and underserved population, who are living in rural and hard-to-reach areas, ASHA workers are often the first port of call for health-related needs.
- These incredible women are trained volunteers drawn from the communities they serve and are now in a number of over a million in India. For years they have been providing health services, care, and counselling to communities on safe deliveries, nutrition, immunisation, family planning and protecting people from infections and diseases. They are also taking care of the younger children. Their tireless efforts and commitment are more than commendable.
- The COVID-19 pandemic has been challenging for everyone. For ASHA workers, the pandemic broaden their tasks even further – from guiding communities on how to protect themselves and addressing questions and concerns related to COVID-19 and following the appropriate behaviour, ASHA workers did it all, along with ensuring that routine immunisation for children is moving. They also went door-to-door to mobilise people for the COVID-19 vaccine. ASHAs’ activities and responses to COVID come with the risk of infection, despite that they worked day in and day out and provided an invaluable contribution, especially to the health and wealth of vulnerable populations.
- ASHA workers have been contributing to many successors in national programmes from Polio eradication to strengthening immunisation, increasing institutional deliveries and even eradicating diseases, ASHA workers have always been at the forefront of healthcare. The pandemic once again highlighted their spirit, dedication, service, and selfless service.
- Even under the most difficult circumstances, ASHAs continued to link communities with healthcare services, ensuring people have access to primary healthcare while also helping roll out and scale up pandemic responses.
- ASHAs serve as a crucial link between communities and the healthcare system, they continue to give hope to a millions of people for a healthier and better future.
- The Global Health Leaders Award is in the recognition of the ASHAs dedicated service.
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.