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Challenges and Support for ASHA Workers



  Feb 23, 2024

ASHA Workers’



1. Who are ASHA workers and what role do they play in the healthcare system?

ASHA workers, or Accredited Social Health Activists, are community health workers under the National Health Mission of India. They serve as a bridge between the community and the healthcare system, focusing on maternal and child health, vaccination programs, and basic sanitation and hygiene education. Their role is pivotal in enhancing the outreach of healthcare services to rural and underserved areas.

2. What challenges do ASHA workers face in their daily duties?

ASHA workers face multiple challenges including: Overwork and Underpayment: Despite their critical role, they are often overworked and underpaid, receiving minimal honorariums and performance-based incentives.

Health Risks: Their demanding work schedule, coupled with inadequate nutrition and sleep, puts them at risk of anaemia, malnutrition, and non-communicable diseases.

Lack of Autonomy: They have limited control over their time, finances, and well-being, exacerbated by delayed payments and out-of-pocket expenses for work-related logistics.

Workplace Violence: ASHA workers sometimes face abuse, harassment, and assault within the communities they serve, with little support or redressal mechanisms.

Environmental Challenges: Extreme weather conditions pose additional health risks and operational challenges, with insufficient protective measures in place.

3. What measures have been proposed or implemented to support ASHA workers?

Several measures have been proposed and some implemented to support ASHA workers, including:
Health Insurance: Recent announcements include free health insurance cover under the Ayushman Bharat Scheme for ASHAs and Anganwadi workers.
ASHA Benefit Package: In 2018, a benefit package was approved, providing coverage for accidents, deaths, and disability.
Demands for Better Compensation: ASHAs have been mobilizing for a fixed honorarium, stipulated working hours, access to maternity leaves, and pensions.

4. How does the wellbeing of ASHA workers impact the healthcare system?

The wellbeing of ASHA workers is directly linked to the effectiveness of India’s healthcare system. A healthy and well-supported ASHA worker is more likely to be effective in her duties, which includes facilitating access to maternal and child health services. Studies suggest that women are more likely to use maternal health services when connected with ASHAs, highlighting the importance of investing in their wellbeing for better health outcomes.

5. What long-term solutions are being considered to address the challenges faced by ASHA workers?

Long-term solutions include formal recognition of ASHA workers as integral parts of the healthcare workforce, fair compensation, comprehensive health coverage, and the provision of safety measures to protect them from occupational hazards. Additionally, systematic investments in the ASHA program are essential to strengthen their role and ensure the sustainability of healthcare services in rural and underserved areas.

SRIRAM’s

aims to highlight the critical yet underappreciated role of ASHA workers in India’s healthcare system, advocating for improvements in their working conditions and recognition of their invaluable contributions.


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