NRHM (National Rural Health Mission) was launched in 2005 to contribute towards quality health care to the rural population. Rural specifies the countryside geographical areas which are outside the town and cities. In 2013, the Union Cabinet approved the launch of NUHM (National Urban Health Mission) which focuses on urban areas. Urban represents the inside town and cities.
National Health Mission focuses on both NRHM and NUHM because these two are the submissions of NHM.
ASHA is an acronym for Accredited Social Health Activist. ASHA is one of the key components of NRHM (National Rural Health Mission) and it is instituted by MoHFW (Ministry of Health and Family Welfare). MoHFW plays a vital role in health policy in India.
Community Health Workers
ASHA worker is a Community Health Worker. They play a vital role in providing basic health services to the community. ASHA workers are trained to provide preventive, promotional and rehabilitation care to the community.
This mission commenced in 2015, as days progressed more workers were elected from each community based on the fulfilment of the selection criteria. There are approximately 10 Lakhs ASHAs as per the latest statistics.
ASHA Criteria, Selection & Training
ASHA should be a woman
A resident of the village
She should fall under any of these criteria - married/ widowed/ divorced
Age should between 25 to 45 years
Qualified up to 8th - 10th grade
Should have effective communication and leadership skills to interact with the community
In general, there should be “One ASHA per 1000 population”
Induction Training for ASHA is provided for 23 days.
ASHA translated to “HOPE” in Hindi.
ASHA Major Focus
ASHA workers increased the community engagement with the Health System
Motivates women to give birth in the hospital
Bringing children to immunization clinics
Encouraging Family Planning
Treating basic illness and injury with first aid
Keeping records and improving village sanitation
Role of ASHA workers in COVID
ASHA workers are playing a crucial role in this Pandemic. They are the forefront health workers during this COVID-19 crisis. They visit nearly 300 houses in their community per day. It has been reported that they are supporting more than 12 hours a day to gather information about the people in their own community. They gather information about residents current health status, report about the travel history, and check home quarantine people status. They are also involved in creating awareness by reaching door to door.
Image source: Down To Earth
Role of ASHA workers for malaria in Odisha
ASHA workers are trained in diagnosing and monitoring malaria. In early 2015 in Odisha malaria was reported in the high count and with the deployment of ASHA workers, it was controlled drastically by 85% in the year 2019. ASHA tests fever early so that they can Detect early and provide Complete Treatment
Struggles of ASHA Workers
ASHA workers are the unseen workers, they always strive to give their utmost best in medical services to their community. Considering this pandemic their contribution towards medical service is much appreciable. Their responsibility is to interact with more people, even their work duration is uncertain and it varies based on the circumstances and diverse people's health. If it is a rural hilly region then they have to walk/ travel to reach multiple houses to check the resident health status by considering the hard challenges during the journey.
I would like to conclude this blog with the following quote,
“BE THE ONE WHO MAKES A CHANGE AND IMPACT OTHERS” “BE THE ONE - do things best in what you do”
There is a janitor whom I know. They always do their best in their work, which marks a stamp. That remark - there is a person who is best in what they do, considering the roles and responsibilities which they do, because every role in this world plays a vital role in adding value to another human life (this is the nature of human existence). During the analysis of this data, I came to know how each and every ASHA worker is dedicated towards their work and I admire their all efforts. They should be honoured for their services in this field and really they are making a huge difference.
About The Author
I am Sangeetha Ramanathan and I live in Tamil Nadu, India. One of my hobbies is numismatic – I have collected 200+ old and current currencies inclusive inside and outside of India. Especially I collected the Indian Commemorative Coins. While writing this blog, I had an opportunity to learn more about the impact of ASHA workers at the grass-root level. I hope you read something informative.
Sangeetha Ramanathan Limitless Stree Member