WHO honours ASHA volunteers
GS Paper - 1 (Society)
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has recognized the contribution of India’s 1 million Accredited Social Health Activists (ASHAs) during the Covid-19 pandemic. It is acknowledged that ASHAs facilitate linking households to health facilities, and play pivotal roles in house-to-house surveys, vaccination, public health and Reproductive and Child Health measures.
Who are ASHA workers?
- ASHA workers are volunteers from within the community who are trained to provide information and aid people in accessing benefits of various healthcare schemes of the government.
- They act as a bridge connecting marginalised communities with facilities such as primary health centres, sub-centres and district hospitals.
- The role of these community health volunteers under the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) was first established in 2005.
- ASHAs are primarily married, widowed, or divorced women between the ages of 25 and 45 years from within the community.
- They must have good communication and leadership skills; should be literate with formal education up to Class 8, as per the programme guidelines.
How many ASHAs are there across the country?
- The aim is to have one ASHA for every 1,000 persons or per habitation in hilly, tribal or other sparsely populated areas.
- There are around 10.4 lakh ASHA workers across the country, with the largest workforces in states with high populations – Uttar Pradesh (1.63 lakh), Bihar (89,437), and Madhya Pradesh (77,531).
- Goa is the only state with no such workers, as per the latest National Health Mission data available from September 2019.