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?

  1. 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.
  2. They act as a bridge connecting marginalised communities with facilities such as primary health centres, sub-centres and district hospitals.
  3. The role of these community health volunteers under the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) was first established in 2005.
  4. ASHAs are primarily married, widowed, or divorced women between the ages of 25 and 45 years from within the community.
  5. 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?

  1. The aim is to have one ASHA for every 1,000 persons or per habitation in hilly, tribal or other sparsely populated areas.
  2. 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).
  3. Goa is the only state with no such workers, as per the latest National Health Mission data available from September 2019.