The women of ASHA: overworked, underpaid and on the edge of breakdown

Syllabus: GS-I

Subject: Society and Social Justice

Topic: Social sector – Health

Issue: ASHA volunteers

ASHA (Accredited Social Health Activist):

  • a community health worker program launched by the Government of India in 2005.
  • ASHA is a trained female community health activist who is selected from the village itself and is accountable to it.
  • Works as an interface between the community and the public health system.
  • Responsibilities of ASHA workers:
    • Provide basic health services, such as immunisation, antenatal care, postnatal care, and family planning counselling.
    • Promote healthy behaviours, such as handwashing, using sanitary latrines, and eating a balanced diet.
    • Mobilise the community to participate in health programs, such as immunisation campaigns and nutrition programs.
    • Collect data on health indicators in their villages.
  • Challenges for ASHA women:
    • Triple burden – housework, childcare, and looking after all homes and families for the health system .
    • Very poor Remuneration: Low pay and lack of benefits for ASHA women as they are not designated as health care workers.
    • Lack of training and support.
    • Limited access to transportation and communication facilities – work during peak humidity and heat.

In the 2024-25 Interim Budget, the Central government announced its decision to provide free health insurance cover for all ASHAs and Anganwadi workers and helpers under the Ayushman Bharat Scheme.

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