New Delhi: ASHA (which means hope in Hindi) is the network of more than one million accredited women health workers, who are at the forefront of healthcare delivery in India. Accredited Social Health Activists (ASHAs) are among the six recipients of the World Health Organisation (WHO) Director-General’s Global Health Leaders Award and have been recognised for their outstanding contribution towards protecting and promoting health. The award ceremony was part of the live-streamed high-level opening session of the 75th World Health Assembly on May 22, 2022.
The Accredited Social Health Activist Workers (ASHA) are more than 1 million female volunteers in #India, honored for their crucial role in linking the community with the health system and ensuring that those living in rural poverty can access primary health care services #WHA75 pic.twitter.com/pC4eWC8rzy
— World Health Organization (WHO) (@WHO) May 22, 2022
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ASHA workers have a crucial role in linking the community with the health system and in ensuring those living in rural poverty can access primary health care services, as shown throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. They support maternal care and immunisation for children against vaccine-preventable diseases; tuberculosis, neglected tropical diseases, communicable disease prevention and control; and core areas of health promotion for nutrition, sanitation, and healthy living.
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10 Things To Know About India’s Healthcare Heroes – ASHAs:
- ASHAs are the grassroot health workers assisting the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) in delivering primary healthcare, particularly for women and children, in both rural and urban areas.
- ASHA workers were instituted as community-based health functionaries under the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) launched in 2005. One of the key components of the National Rural Health Mission is to provide every village in the country with a trained female community health activist – ASHA.
- ASHA is primarily a woman resident of the village, preferably in the age group of 25 to 45 years. She should be a literate woman, qualified up to 10 standard.
- ASHA workers are choosen through a rigorous selection process involving various community groups, self-help groups, Anganwadi Institutions, the Block Nodal officer, District Nodal officer, the village Health Committee and the Gram Sabha. Once selected, they undergo a series of training episodes to acquire the necessary knowledge, skills and confidence for performing their role.
- The frontline workers go door-to-door to create awareness about health and its social determinants like nutrition, sanitation and hygiene. They mobilise the community with information on existing health services available to them and the need for timely use of health services.
- They counsel women and families on birth preparedness, the importance of safe delivery, breastfeeding and complementary feeding, immunisation, contraception and prevention of common infections including Reproductive Tract Infection/Sexually Transmitted Infection (RTIs/STIs) and care of the young child.
- ASHA workers mobilise the community and facilitate them in accessing health and health-related services available at the Anganwadi or primary health centers. These services include immunisation, ante-natal check-up, post-natal check-up, and supplementary nutrition.
- They are also empowered with knowledge and a drug kit to provide first-contact healthcare or community-level curative care for minor ailments such as diarrhoea, fevers, care for the normal and sick newborn, childhood illnesses and first aid.
- They also act as a depot holder for essential health products that a local community might need at any point in time. This includes Oral Rehydration Therapy (ORS) packet, Iron Folic Acid (IFA) tablets, chloroquine, Disposable Delivery Kits (DDK), oral pills and condoms.
- ASHAs are entitled to activity-based incentives; for each institutional delivery, they get Rs. 300 in rural areas and Rs. 200 in urban areas. Similarly, Rs. 100 is given in favour of full immunisation of a child under one year.
Also Read: Health Of Mothers And Children Is The Priority For This 28-year-old ASHA Worker In A Jharkhand Village
ASHA workers are the unsung heroes of primary healthcare in India. During the COVID-19 pandemic, they worked closely with the health department and ensured each individual has the necessary knowledge and support required. They also supported the COVID vaccination in rural parts of India.
The foot soldiers have been praised time and again for their relentless service. After ASHA workers received the WHO recognition, PM Modi congratulated them on social media. He wrote, “They are at the forefront of ensuring a healthy India. Their dedication and determination is admirable.”
Delighted that the entire team of ASHA workers have been conferred the @WHO Director-General’s Global Health Leaders’ Award. Congratulations to all ASHA workers. They are at the forefront of ensuring a healthy India. Their dedication and determination is admirable. https://t.co/o8VO283JQL
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) May 23, 2022
Also Read: Independence Day Special: Meet Odisha’s ASHA Worker, Who Made It To Forbes List For Improving Health System In Her Village
Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya also lauded their work, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. He congratulated them and wrote, “ASHA workers are at the forefront of healthcare delivery and played a key role in the country’s response to the prevention and management of the COVID-19.”
Congratulations to all the ASHA workers on being conferred the @WHO Director-General’s Global Health Leaders’ Award.
ASHA workers are at the forefront of healthcare delivery & played a key role in the country’s response to the prevention and management of the COVID-19. https://t.co/seMDNmlqEY
— Dr Mansukh Mandaviya (@mansukhmandviya) May 23, 2022
Also Read: Independence Day Special: ASHA Worker Deepti Pandey From Uttar Pradesh On How Her Work Fulfils Her Life
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.