How ASHA Workers Spread 'Hope' In India Amid Covid-19 Pandemic
The ASHA workers as their name suggests, are living up to it and serving women and infants in the country amid the novel coronavirus pandemic.
During this time of disruption in primary health care and OPD services in hospitals due to COVID-19, the ANM and ASHA workers are ensuring continued care to maternal and new-born health in rural areas. They are also spreading awareness among pregnant and lactating mothers regarding use of masks, social distancing and maintaining hygiene etc.
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The Accredited social health activists and Auxiliary nurse midwife, popularly known as ASHA and ANM workers, they ensure timely registration of pregnant women and facilitate ante and post-natal care. In case of complications in pregnancy, they also facilitate their transportation to nearest health centres.
The influx of migrant workers from different parts of the country has however increased the quantum of their work.
Speaking to IANS, one of the ANM workers Rani Devi of Sikrodhi Village, in Uttar Pradesh, said, "We are not only working with the pregnant women in our area to ensure safe delivery and proper care but are also gathering information on the arriving migrants. We are facing a lot of challenges in our work these days. Particularly in the case of monitoring of arriving migrants and gathering information on their health and well-being, we have to be very vigilant and cautious. Many people are not very co-operative but we are doing our duty."
Another ANM worker Sulekha from Azamgarh, UP, told IANS, "Before the lockdown, we used to conduct four Ante-natal Care (ANC) tests and blood tests. Earlier, it used to be easier but now due to the social distancing measures, we are facing constraints in proper care. However, this has not stopped us from doing our duty. We advise people to use gloves, masks and face covers when they visit the health workers and that if they have any symptoms like fever, cough, flu or breathing problem, then they should immediately inform at the COVID help line numbers. I have given my personal contact number too for emergency. The biggest challenge before us is transport and excessive police checking in the lockdown."
As the routine immunisation programme resumed on May 5 in Uttar Pradesh, which was halted due to the lockdown, these workers are now doing it among pregnant women and infants with proper social distancing measures and following health protocols. The vaccination however is not happening in containment zones to avoid the spread of coronavirus.
To meet the challenge and avoid mass gathering, the ASHA workers are dealing with five people at a time.
An ASHA worker Ranjita, from Farrukhabad told IANS that the lockdown has affected her work to a large extent and she is currently facing many challenges. "We are facing a number of challenges due to the lockdown. People are worried about availability of routine hospital check-up for pregnant women and institutional delivery. Due to the lockdown, there was a disruption in immunization services and health checkups. Therefore we have been reaching out to pregnant and lactating mothers to inform them on precautions like masks and maintaining hygiene etc."
These workers go door to door and are preparing lists of pregnant women with symptoms of cough, fever and difficulty in breathing and submitting it to the CMO of their respective districts. An Asha worker Sheela Yadav told IANS "to ensure minimal disruption of health services during lockdown, the government has allowed Village Health and Nutrition Day (VHND), door-to-door checkup and follow-ups etc. We are ensuring that proper health services are delivered to beneficiaries. We have 11 pregnant and 7 lactating mothers in our area and we are regularly in touch with them for guidance on health issues and regular checkups."
Apart from ensuring maternal care, the ASHA workers have also been raising awareness on Covid-19 in unique ways. Sunaina Devi, a corona warrior, and ASHA worker of Ward 9 in Motipur block in Bihar, found a new way in spreading awareness on Covid-19 and brain fever in her neighbourhood. With a smile on her face and a song on her lips, Sunaina is creating awareness about these diseases and people are listening too. She has created her own lyrics to educate people about the deadly diseases and the caution to be taken. Sunaina says that she leaves home at 6 a.m. and starts singing in front of a few houses. People, including children, enjoy her songs and lyrics.