ASHA (Accredited Social Health Activists) workers are part of the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) launched in 2005 to provide rural areas access to better healthcare facilities. ASHA workers form the backbone of this scheme. The scheme was initially designed to make sure that there is ‘doorstep delivery’ of health services to rural communities, and ASHA workers became the veritable foot soldiers of this scheme. The burden of reaching the homes of people in rural areas fell on the shoulders of ASHA workers.
As an encouraging development for the struggle of ASHA workers in Uttarakhand state, the ASHA unions led by AICCTU and CITU, major unions in the state, have given a joint call for a prolonged struggle.
Almost one crore scheme workers all over the country shoulder the burden of implementing several important public schemes of the central government on health and education. They include ASHA workers (working under National Rural Health Mission program), Anganvadi workers (working under ICDS program) and MDM workers (working under Mid Day Meal scheme for school children). Almost 95% of the scheme workers in the country are women. These scheme workers are the backbone in ensuring basic health and nutrition to vast majority of the country’s population.
The Forgotten Frontline Workers: Safai Karamcharis, Hospital D-Group Workers, ASHA Workers and Crematorium Workers
While everyone is speaking about the doctors and nurses, who are most definitely working on the frontlines and whose services are, of course, laudable during this pandemic, it is necessary for us to remember the frontline workers who are often neglected – the Safai Karamcharis / Sanitation Workers, the D-Group workers in hospitals, ASHA Workers and Crematorium workers.