India’s ASHA workers: For community-oriented health services
Team Ambitiousbaba are here with a Current Affairs Special Series. In this series, candidates will be introduced to current affairs topics daily, which will not only improve their general awareness but also will ensure that the candidates do not lack in any current affairs topic. Today’s Current Affairs topic is “India’s ASHA workers: For community-oriented health services“
- India’s one million Accredited Social Health Activists (ASHA) volunteers have received arguably the biggest international recognition by World Health Organization’s Global Health Leaders Awards 2022.
- They were six awardees which was announced at the 75th World Health Assembly in Geneva.
- This award is in recognition of the work done by ASHA volunteers during the COVID-19 pandemic as well as for serving as a link between communities and health systems.
Role played in Covid- 19
- ASHAs have made extraordinary contributions towards primary healthcare services like maternal and child health including immunisation and treatment for hypertension, diabetes and tuberculosis, etc., for both rural and urban populations.
- ASHAs have played an outstanding role in making India polio free.
About the ASHA Programme:
- India launched the ASHA programme in 2005-06 as part of the National Rural Health Mission.
- Initially the programme was rolled out in rural areas, with the launch of the National Urban Health Mission in 2013, it was extended to urban settings as well.
- In rural areas almost 1,000 women work as the volunteers and 2,000 in urban areas.
- The core of the ASHA programme is to to build the capacity of community members in taking care of their own health.
Origin of ASHA:
- Initiated from two past initiatives:
- one from the late 1970s and
- the other from early 2000s.
- The biggest inspiration of designing the programme is Mitanin which means ‘a female friend’ in Chhattisgarhi, it is a initiative of Chhattisgarh started in 202.
- The Mitanin were/are all-female volunteers available for every 50 households and 250 people.
- The ASHA workers aim to ensure familiarity, better community connect and acceptance. Three, the idea of having activists in their name was to reflect that they were/are the community’s representative in the health system, and not the lowest-rung government functionary in the community.
Challenges of the programme:
- Community actions for health and ASHA mentoring groups
- Platforms such as village health, sanitation and nutrition committees were created, for coordination and service delivery.
- Anganwadi workers (AWW) and Auxiliary Nurse Midwife (ANM) as well as with panchayat representatives and influential community members at the village level, was facilitated.
- It is difficult to imagine how India would have responded to the COVID¬19 pandemic had the ASHAs, AWWs and ANMs not toiled.
- ASHAs are the only ones who do not have a fixed salary
- They do not have opportunity for career progression
- Total payment continues to remain low and often delayed
The award given to the ASHA workers is like a reminder and an opportunity to further strengthen the ASHA programme for a stronger and community oriented primary healthcare system, which will prepare India for future epidemics and pandemics as well.
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