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JHARKHAND’S SAHIYAS: AN INSPIRATION

Focus: GS-II Social Justice

Introduction

  • The ASHAs in Jharkhand, known as “Sahiyas”, have been supporting delivery of health care services especially in the tribal areas.
  • The Sahiyas have been widely acknowledged for their commitment and agency in enabling access to health care, even in the hard to reach and remote tribal areas.

Role Played by Sahiyas during Pandemic

  • Sahiyas have been actively engaged in various activities related to COVID-19 such as creating awareness about preventive measures of COVID-19 like frequent hand washing with soap and water, use of masks/face covers when stepping out in public spaces, following proper etiquette while coughing and sneezing, etc.
  • They are also involved in contact tracing, line listing and follow up of the COVID-19 cases.
  • Sahiyas played a crucial role in active House-to-House Survey to identify the local high-risk population such as individuals with Influenza like Illness (ILI)/ Severe Acute Respiratory Illness (SARI) symptoms, etc.

What is ASHA?

  • Under the National Health Mission, ASHA are envisaged to be community health volunteers. Under the National Health Mission, ASHA are entitled to task/activity-based incentives.
  • Under the National Health Mission, ASHAs act as a critical link between Healthcare delivery system and community.

Tasks assigned to ASHA workers under National Health Mission

  1. To create awareness and provide information to the community on determinants of health such as nutrition, basic sanitation and hygienic practices, healthy living and working conditions, information on existing health services and the need for timely use of health services.
  2. To counsel women and families on birth preparedness, importance of safe delivery, breastfeeding and complementary feeding, immunization, contraception and prevention of common infections and care of the young child.
  3. To mobilize the community and facilitate people’s access to health and health related services available at the village/sub-centre/primary health centres.
  4. To work with the Village Health, Sanitation and Nutrition Committee (VNHC) to develop a comprehensive village health plan, and promote convergent action by the committee on social determinants of health.
  5. In support with VHSNC, ASHAs will assist and mobilize the community for action against gender-based violence.
  6. To arrange escort/accompany pregnant women & children requiring treatment/ admission to the nearest pre- identified health facility.
  7. To provide community level curative care for minor ailments such as diarrhoea, fevers, care for the normal and sick new born, childhood illnesses and first aid.
  8. She will be a provider of Directly Observed Treatment Short-course (DOTS) under Revised National Tuberculosis Control Programme.
  9. She will also act as a depot holder for essential health products appropriate to local community needs. A Drug Kit will be provided to each ASHA.
  10. To act as a care provider can be enhanced based on state needs.
  11. To provide information on about the births and deaths in her village and any unusual health problems/disease outbreaks in the community to the Sub-Centres/Primary Health Centre.
  12. She will promote construction of household toilets under Total Sanitation Campaign.

Support provided to ASHAs

To improve the financial security of ASHAs, the Government of India has already taken several steps in addition to routine and recurring incentives, which inter-alia includes:

  1. Benefits of Life insurance, accident insurance and pension to eligible ASHAs and ASHA facilitators are extended by enrolling them under:
  2. Pradhan Mantri Jeevan Jyoti Beema Yojana (premium of Rs. 330 contributed by GOI).
  3. Pradhan Mantri Suraksha Beema Yojana (premium of Rs. 12 contributed by GOI).
  4. Pradhan Mantri Shram Yogi Maan Dhan (PM-SYM) (50% contribution of premium by GOI and 50% by beneficiaries).
  5. The government has also approved a cash award of Rs. 20,000/- and a citation to ASHAs who leave the programme after working as ASHAs for minimum of 10 years, as acknowledgement of their contribution.

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September 2022
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