ASHA – Generating Hopes for the Rural India
While reading todays paper I had a glimpse of a Ministry of Information and Broadcasting’s advertisement about ASHA being a success in India. It was before three months that I had met few ASHA bahu and heard their apathy and had written about them (https://politicalavenger.wordpress.com/2013/02/20/all-india-asha-bahu-association-threatens-to-boycott-pulse-polio-program-on-february-24/)
Nevertheless the contribution of ASHA( Accredited Social Health Activist) has been immense and more the reason for me to write few things about them. ASHAs are community health workers instituted by the Government of India’s Ministry of Health and Family Welfare(MoHFW) as a part of National Rural Health Mission(NHRM). The Mission began in 2005. The ASHA is a voluntary health worker who acts as a link between the community and health care facilities. This is a very crucial role as many in the community neither have knowledge nor the confidence to be able to get the best out of the facilities provided for them by the government.
Going through the advt. I came to know about the story of one of the many unsung heroes of our Health-care system,Debaki Pradhan, who is from my state Odisha. Debaki Pradhan has been working as an ASHA in a remote village in Raigham Gram Panchayat of Odisha under the NRHM. One of Debaki’s key mandates is to promote safe childbirth and infant health care. In the past 6 years, she has helped 36 women deliver their children through access to the public health facilities.
In April 2011, Debaki Pradhan accompanied Menaka to Kosala PHC. In due course Menaka delivered a set of twins. Unfortunately, one of the babies was severely underweight right from birth. As an ASHA, Debaki accompanied the mother home and decided to keep an eye on the baby with low birth weight.
During one of her visits to see the mother and infant, she observed that despite all efforts, the baby with low birth weight was just not able to suckle the mother’s milk properly and as a result, was getting malnourished. She swung into action. She sent the mother and the baby to the nearby Nutritional Rehabilitation Centre(NRC) at Angul Hospital. With Specialized care, the condition of the low birth weight baby improved and she was able to have her mother’s milk. In due course she gained strength and is growing up as a normal happy healthy baby.
Menaka’s baby was lucky and due to the timely observation and intervention of Debaki, the local ASHA, she survived. There are many more ASHAs like Debaki Pradhan who perform their duties and save the lives of pregnant mothers and newborns. They are the unsung Heroes of our health system.
At a national level, there are a total of 8.8 lakhs ASHAs supported by the NRHM. There is thus on ASHA for every 1000 rural inhabitants in almost every part of the country. ASHA is selected by the Gram Sabha and is entitled for a performance based compensation package.
- ASHA – Generating Hopes for the Rural India
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