Accredited Social Health Activist (ASHA)
ASHA or Accredited Social Health Activist is a trained female community health activist as a key component of the National Rural Health Mission under National Health Mission. She is selected from the village itself and works as a link between community and public health system.
- ASHA must primarily be a woman resident of the village – married/ widowed/ divorced, preferably in the age group of 25 to 45 years.
- She should be a literate woman with formal education up to class eight. This may be relaxed only if no suitable person with this qualification is available.
- Selection of ASHA is done through a process involving various community groups, self-help groups, Anganwadi Institutions, the Block Nodal officer, District Nodal officer, the village Health Committee and the Gram Sabha.
- She has to undergo a series of training episodes to acquire necessary knowledge.
- She receives performance-based incentives for promoting universal immunization, referral and escort services for Reproductive & Child Health (RCH) and other healthcare programmes, and construction of household toilets.
Functions of ASHA
- ASHA works as a fountainhead of public health programmes in her village and as the first port of call for health related demands of community. She promotes institutional delivery, universal immunization and other public health initiatives
- She works as a link between the government and community in referral and escort services for Reproductive & Child Health (RCH) and other healthcare programmes, and construction of household toilets
- She provides information to the community on nutrition, sanitation & hygienic practices, healthy living and working conditions.
- She counsels women on birth preparedness, makes her aware of importance of safe delivery, breast-feeding and complementary feeding, immunization, contraception and prevention of common infections including sexual diseases.
- She also mobilizes the community and facilitates it in accessing health and health related services available at the Anganwadi/sub-centre/primary health centers.
- She also works as depot holder for Oral Rehydration Therapy (ORS), Iron Folic Acid Tablet(IFA), chloroquine, Disposable Delivery Kits (DDK), Oral Pills & Condoms, etc.
Other Important Facts
This initiative was started in 2005 under National Rural Health Mission (NRHM). Currently, there are over 9 Lakh ASHAs operating in 33 states and UTs (except Goa, Chandigarh & Puducherry). ASHA serve up as a bridge between poor and primary care services. ASHA makes a survey of the residents of villages, She creates awareness, promote good health practices, and provide information to the community groups. She identifies eye problems (including cataract) and refer patients. She also provide primary medical care for minor ailments.