Source: PIB & National Health Mission
Who is ASHA?
Accredited Social Health Activist (ASHA) is a trained female community health activist. Selected from the community itself and accountable to it, the ASHA will be trained to work as an interface between the community and the public health system
Role of ASHA
ASHA is a health activist in the community who will create awareness on health and its social determinants and mobilize the community towards local health planning and increased utilization and accountability of the existing health services. She would be a promoter of good health practices. She will also provide a minimum package of curative care as appropriate and feasible for that level and make timely referrals. Her roles and responsibilities would be as follows:
- ASHA will take steps to create awareness and provide information to the community on determinants of health such as nutrition, basic sanitation & hygienic practices, healthy living and working conditions, information on existing health services and the need for timely utilization of health & family welfare services.
- She would counsel women on birth preparedness, importance of safe delivery, breastfeeding and complementary feeding, immunization, contraception and prevention of common infections including Reproductive Tract Infection/Sexually Transmitted Infection (RTIs/STIs) and care of the young child.
- ASHA also mobilize the community and facilitate them in accessing health and health related services available at the village/sub-center/primary health centers, such as Immunization, Ante Natal Check-up (ANC), Post Natal Check-up (PNC), ICDS, sanitation and other services being provided by the government.
- She also work with the Village Health & Sanitation Committee of the Gram Panchayat to develop a comprehensive village health plan.
- She will arrange escort/accompany pregnant women & children requiring treatment/ admission to the nearest pre-identified health facility i.e. Primary Health Centre/ Community Health Centre/ First Referral Unit (PHC/CHC /FRU).
- ASHA will provide primary medical care for minor ailments such as diarrhoea, fevers, and first aid for minor injuries.
- She is a provider of Directly Observed Treatment Short-course (DOTS) under Revised National Tuberculosis Control Programme.
- She also act as a depot holder for essential provisions being made available to every habitation like Oral Rehydration Therapy (ORS), Iron Folic Acid Tablet (IFA), chloroquine, Disposable Delivery Kits (DDK), Oral Pills & Condoms, etc. A Drug Kit is provided to each ASHA. Contents of the kit will be based on the recommendations of the expert/technical advisory group set up by the Government of India.
- Her role as a provider can be enhanced subsequently. States can explore the possibility of graded training to her for providing newborn care and management of a range of common ailments particularly childhood illnesses.
- She will inform 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.
- She will promote the construction of household toilets under the Total Sanitation Campaign.
- Fulfilment of all these roles by ASHA is envisaged through continuous training and up-gradation of her skills, spread over two years or more.
Criteria for Selection of ASHA
- ASHA must be primarily a woman resident of the village – ‘Married/Widow/Divorced’ and preferably in the age group of 25 to 45 yrs.
- ASHA should have effective communication skills, leadership qualities and be able to reach out to the community.
- She should be a literate woman with formal education up to Eighth Class. This may be relaxed only if no suitable person with this qualification is available.
- Adequate representation from disadvantaged population groups should be ensured to serve such groups better