New Delhi: To mark the 75 years of Independence, NDTV-Dettol Banega Swasth India held a special episode – Saluting Bharat Ki ‘ASHA’ with Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan. The episode was dedicated to the one million ASHA (Accredited Social Health Activist) workers of India, who are the backbone of rural health infrastructure and have been on the frontline of the country’s war against undernutrition, health. The special episode saw experts coming on one platform to discuss the critical role of ASHA workers in India and how the country can further strengthen their role in building a Swasth India.
Navya Naveli Nanda, Health Tech Entrepreneur and Gender Equality Activist joined the special show and asserted on the need to amp up the education when it comes to understanding women’s health and body and also said that without the ASHA’s dedication and passion, the work in terms of delivering health services and spreading awareness about health issues is incomplete.
Here are top highlights of the things she said on the special episode:
- Last year, when I was working on a healthcare platform related to women – Aara Health, we had organised a workshop with girls in the age group of 14 on health and hygiene. The aim of the workshop was to talk to the young girls about menstruation and about different healthcare practices they should do during their monthly menstrual cycle. That time, one of the young girl shared an instance with me and told me how she was taken by the surprise when she started menstruating. She thought menstrual blood should be of colour blue instead of colour red because that’s what we all see on televisions on sanitary pad commercials. And that’s when it hit me how big a problem really is. It made me realise that the problem is not just in accessing the products but also the way we are taught about things. We are not transparent about this process, which mostly all women go through. This one instance made me realise that there is an urgent need to amp up the awareness and education on women related issues. And, that’s really have been my motivation.
- Talking about the role of ASHA workers in spreading this awareness, I think, the role is very important. Without them our work is incomplete. We can go to as many localities and locations but at the end it is ASHA workers dedication and passion for work that helps get the work done on ground.
- ASHA workers help build a stronger community within their villages or towns. They are the people who then help bust myths and taboos around women health, menstruation.
- We had started a project in Maharashtra’s Gadchiroli district called Period Homes, where women are still expected to leave their homes when they are menstruating. But their dilapidated and unhygienic menstruation huts have been transformed into modern resting homes. This project wouldn’t have been possible without the support of ASHA workers. The role they played in spreading the awareness about the initiative, convincing people about staying in these huts is something which we couldn’t have done alone as we don’t have that connect with the community. We can bring the resources and opportunities but in the end it is the ASHA workers passion and dedication that actually gets the work done on ground.
- The role of ASHA workers is extremely crucial, they have helped break a lot of taboos and there couldn’t have been any better way, I think.
- Speaking about technology and how important is the role of technology in upskilling ASHA workers in India, I think, we have already seen how the internet penetration has increased so much over the last few years. Estimates state that by 2030 we are expected to have around 1.3 billion internet users in India and today approximately 373 million internet users are from rural areas of the country – so that really shows the depth and how fast we are growing.
- Using technology is one of the most powerful tools, not just for the youth but also to bridge the gap between urban and rural areas. The need of the hour is to use technology, use platforms of social media wisely and talk about things like women health, that ways more and more people can be reached out. It is the responsibility of youngsters to take up that role.
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.