Accredited Social Health Activist

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Accredited Social Health Activist (ASHA)
CountryIndia
MinistryMinistry of Health and Family Welfare
Launched2005
Status939,978 ASHA's (2018)

An Accredited Social Health Activist (ASHA) is a community health worker employed by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) as a part of India's National Rural Health Mission (NRHM).[1] The mission began in 2005; full implementation was targeted for 2012. The idea behind the Accredited Social Health Activist (ASHA) was to connect marginalized communities to the health care system. The target was to have an "ASHA in every village" in India.[2] In July 2013, the number of ASHAs was reported to be 870,089.[3] In 2018, this number became 939,978. The ideal number of ASHAs envisaged was 1,022,265.[4]

Roles and responsibilities[edit]

ASHAs are women trained to act as health educators and health promoters in their communities. The Indian MoHFW describes them as:[5]

...health activist(s) in the community who create awareness on health and its social determinants and mobilize the community towards local health planning and increased utilization and accountability of the existing health services.

Their tasks include:

  • Motivating women to give birth in hospitals,
  • Bringing children to immunization clinics,
  • Encouraging family planning (e.g., surgical sterilization),
  • Treating basic illness and injury with first aid,
  • Keeping demographic records, and
  • Improving village sanitation.[6]

ASHAs also serve as a key communication mechanism between the healthcare system and rural populations.[7]

An ASHA acts as a depot holder for essential provisions being made available to all habitations like:

  • Oral Rehydration Salts (ORS) Therapy,
  • Iron Folic Acid (IFA) Tablets,
  • Chloroquine,
  • Disposable Delivery Kits (DDK),
  • Oral Pills &
  • Condoms.[8]
The tableau of Ministry of Health and Family Welfare highlighting - 'Aasha' during the Republic Day Parade, 2006

Their responsibilities can be classified into:

  • Counseling:
* Breast Feeding
* Skilled birth attendance
* Prevention of diseases
  • Community sensitization:
* Health
* Nutrition
* Related government programs
  • Provision of drugs:
* Malaria
* Tuberculosis
* Diarrhoea
  • Escort:
* Ante- and Post-natal care
* Institutional delivery
* Immunization
* Diabetes test
* Family planning
  • Diagnosis
* Malaria
* Pregnancy
  • Survey of health and related events
  • Others
* Community mobilization
* Health planning
* Participation in community health and allied activities

Selection[edit]

  • ASHAs must primarily be female residents of the village that they have been selected to serve, who are likely to remain in that village for the foreseeable future.
  • Married, widowed or divorced women are preferred over women who are yet to marry, since Indian cultural norms dictate that, upon marriage, a woman leaves her home and/ or village and migrates to that of her husband.
  • ASHAs must have qualified up to the tenth grade; if there is no suitable literate candidate, this criterion may be relaxed.
  • They must preferably be between the ages of 25 and 45.
  • They are selected by and accountable to the gram panchayat (local government).[9]

Remuneration[edit]

Although ASHAs are considered volunteers, they receive outcome-based remuneration and financial compensation for training days. For example, if an ASHA facilitates an institutional delivery she receives 600 (US$7.50) and the mother receives 1,400 (US$18). ASHAs also receive 150 (US$1.90) for each child completing an immunization session and 150 (US$1.90) for each individual who undergoes family planning.[10] ASHAs are expected to attend a Wednesday meeting at the local primary health centre (PHC); beyond this requirement, the time ASHAs spend on their CHW tasks is relatively flexible.

An ASHA's monthly salary has two components:

  • A fixed component of Rs. 4,000/- (USD 53/- approximately), and
  • Incentives that vary from Rs. 5,000/- (USD 67/- approximately) to Rs. 8,000/- (USD 107 approximately), including a "COVID Bonus".

The average monthly salary comes to around Rs. 10,000/- (USD 133/- approximately).

Monitoring and Evaluation under National Rural Health Mission[edit]

A baseline survey was taken at the district level, for fixing decentralized monitoring goals and indicators. Community monitoring is at the village level. The Planning Commission is the ultimate agency for monitoring outcomes. External evaluation is taken up at regular intervals.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ ASHA, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW), 2005, archived from the original on 22 April 2009
  2. ^ National Rural Health Mission 2005–2012: Mission Document (PDF), Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, archived from the original (PDF) on 12 June 2009
  3. ^ Update on the ASHA programme, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, July 2013, archived from the original on 10 September 2019, retrieved 29 March 2021
  4. ^ "National Health Mission: Update of ASHA programme" (PDF). Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. January 2018. Archived (PDF) from the original on 15 July 2019. Retrieved 14 May 2021.
  5. ^ National Institute of Health and Family Welfare. (2005) “Frequently Asked Questions on ASHA.” Government of India. Accessed April 23, 2007
  6. ^ Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW). (2005c). ASHA.. Government of India. Accessed July 20, 2008, from "About ASHA". Archived from the original on 22 April 2009. Retrieved 22 May 2009.
  7. ^ Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW). (2005a). National Rural Health Mission: Mission Document. Government of India. Accessed July 1, 2008, from "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 12 June 2009. Retrieved 2009-05-22.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  8. ^ "About Accredited Social Health Activist (ASHA)". National Rural Health Mission, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. Archived from the original on 8 July 2015. Retrieved 14 May 2015.
  9. ^ "About ASHA - Government of India". nhm.gov.in. Retrieved 20 February 2018.
  10. ^ Reading Material for ASHA (PDF), Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, 2005, archived from the original (PDF) on 27 October 2007