The dip in number of active ASHAs — women in villages trained under the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) to promote healthcare in rural areas — is being attributed to non-performance, with incentives remaining unpaid.
ASHAs are paid performance-based incentives, linked to activities like promoting immunisation of children, encouraging pregnant women to deliver in hospitals, and taking them to hospitals, and promoting other Reproductive & Child Health (RCH) activities under NRHM.
They receive incentives for health interventions, and attend monthly meetings in PHCs. The number of active ASHAs are gauged from this. There are an approximately 50,000 ASHAs in the state and in the the district, the number had dipped to 2,800 from 3,300. Most of those who stopped attending meetings were those who could not carry out the 23 interventions listed under NRHM. A statewide report on incentives not paid to ASHAs until December shows an outstanding amount of Rs 738.59 lakh.
In early February, the amount to be paid was only Rs 1.05 lakh.
Pune Zilla Parishad launched ‘Asha Sanjeevani’, a five-incentive programme that offers Rs 100 per job and to promote it, an ASHA Day was observed on the 27th of every month, where the best performers were felicitated.
Anil Kawade, CEO, Pune Zilla Parishad told Newsline that the scheme will complete a year in May and the five-point incentive programme has led ASHAs to register as many as 18,000 pregnant woman. ASHAs who get a pregnant woman registered with a primary health centre within 12 weeks of pregnancy is given Rs 100. Another Rs 100 is assured if she calls toll free number 102 and takes a pregnant woman to the hospital for delivery. On taking an infant for immunisation against polio, ASHAs again can claim Rs 100. Post -pregnancy check-ups will also ensure another amount, Kawade said.
The scheme aims at mainly reducing maternal mortality and infant mortality rates in the district, he said. To ensure services are provided and health workers on the field remain connected, the Pune ZP had set a closed user group and spent Rs 52 lakh on providing 5,280 BSNL SIM cards to ASHAs, multi-purpose workers and others, Kawade said. “We have a huge workforce and they need to be motivated to undertake interventions that can make an impact under the NRHM,” Kawade added.
ASHAs, or Accredited Social Health Activists, are employed for activities like promoting immunisation of children, encouraging pregnant women to deliver in hospitals and taking them to hospitals, and promoting other Reproductive & Child Health activities under NRHM. They are paid performance-based incentives linked to these jobs.