New Delhi: India has made significant advances in the health indices of its populations over the last two decades, National Health and Family Survey reports suggest. As the nation continues to make progress in the healthcare sector, especially in rural areas, primary healthcare workers have emerged as the backbone of the system. According to the National Health Mission (NHM), improvement in the health outcomes in rural areas is directly related to the availability of trained human resources there. From family planning to malnutrition, healthcare workers are responsible for generating awareness and educating the people in rural India.
These healthcare workers primarily include Anganwadi workers (AWW), Community Health Workers or Accredited Social Health Activist, commonly known as ASHA workers and Auxiliary Nurse Mid-wives known as ANM worker, present at health centres. A Lady Health Visitor (LHV) is entrusted with the task of supervision of six such centres and helps ASHA and ANM workers with guidance and support.
Anganwadi Workers (AWW)
Anganwadi workers are responsible for showing community support and active participation in executing the Anganwadi program. According to NHM, their duties include conducting regular quick surveys of all families, organising pre-school activities, providing health and nutrition education to families, especially pregnant women, motivating families to adopt family planning, educating parents about child growth and development, educating teenage girls and parents by organising social awareness programs, and identifying disabilities in children.
Accredited Social Health Activist (ASHA)
ASHA workers are community health worker and are resident of the same village for which they are appointed. As per NHM, they are usually chosen by and accountable to the panchayat, to act as the interface between the community and the public health system. ASHA workers are honorary volunteers, responsible for promoting universal immunisation, referral and escort services for health centre, construction of household toilets, and other healthcare delivery programmes.
Auxiliary Nurse Mid-wives (ANM)
Auxiliary Nurse Mid-wives are one of the most important frontline health workforces of the Indian public health system, states the NHM. ANMs play a pivotal role in primary healthcare delivery, especially in the provision of maternal and newborn health services. However, ANMs are expected to be multi-purpose health workers. ANM-related work includes maternal and child health along with family planning services, health and nutrition education, efforts for maintaining environmental sanitation, immunisation for the control of communicable diseases, treatment of minor injuries, and first aid in emergencies and disasters.
Relationship Between ASHAs, Anganwadi And ANM Workers
ASHAs are community health workers and depending on the area covered by the health centre, each ANM is supported by four or five ASHAs. ANMs are supposed to take a weekly or fortnightly meeting with ASHAs to review work done in the last week or fortnight. ANMs guide ASHAs on aspects of health care. The ASHA act as bridge between the ANM and the village.
The ANM motivates ASHAs to bring beneficiaries to the institution. The ASHA brings pregnant women to the ANM for check-ups. She also brings married couples to the ANM for counseling on the family planning. The ASHA brings children to immunisation sessions held by the ANM. On the other hand, with Aganwadi workers, the ANM acts as a resource person for the training of ASHAs. Aganwadi workers also assist ANM workers at the health centres.
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.