Accredited social health activists (ASHAs) is community health workers instituted by the government of India’s Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) as part of the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM).
Duties of an ASHAs:
-> Motivating women to give birth in hospitals.
-> Bringing children to immunization clinics.
-> Encouraging family planning .
Importance of ASHAs:
-> These worker have been at the central role of the schemes like National Rural Health Mission, Integrated Child Development Scheme and the immunization program.
-> The decline in the maternal mortality rate and child mortality rate are evidences to their success in programs like Janani Suraksha Yojana.
-> They have also acted as the agents of creating awareness and providing healthcare in those pockets of country that were outside the healthcare system.
-> Asha’s are also meant to serve as a key communication mechanism between the healthcare system and rural populations.
Issues face by ASHAs:
-> Salary issues: Due to lack of any dedicated fund for NRHM these workers often don’t get regular remuneration and the existing remuneration are very less, they also do not have access to social security services..
-> Lack of incentives: The incentive based working of these workers is not adequate due to very meagre incentives provided to them and the delays in getting such payments.
-> Lack of infrastructure: There is lack of adequate infrastructure in form of the PHC and CHC in the rural areas. The lack of transport infrastructure to access the patient is another major issue.
-> Job security: There are also demand for regularization of these workers to provide them with job security.
-> Lack of training: The regular training at particular time interval is no conducted regularly and this acts to reduce their capabilities in providing health services.
-> Setting up of a Department that take care of Asha worker’s Recruitment, training, salary, pensions and problems.
-> Granting them status of Government Employees would benefit their conditions.
-> Maintaining proper and modern facilities in Asha training Institutes.
There is need to ensure that adequate funds are allocated to the NRHM corpus to ensure timely salary payments. The states also need to provide funds for improving on the incentives provided to them. The dream of Universal Healthcare needs a strong Primary healthcare system and this system needs a dedicated workforce at these centers.