India’s million-strong ASHA workers receive global recognition with WHO’s Global Health Leaders Award – UKMALAYALEE

India’s million-strong ASHA workers receive global recognition with WHO’s Global Health Leaders Award

Monday 23 May 2022 4:43 PM UTC

NEW DELHI May 23: Accredited Social Health Activists, or ASHA, were honoured with the Global Health Leaders’ Award by the World Health Organisation on Sunday for their work to connect people with health services. ASHAs include over 1 million female volunteers engaged under National Health Mission who take health services to rural, marginalized and hard-to-reach communities across India.

ASHAs provide maternal care and immunization for children, community health care, services for nutrition, sanitation, and healthy living and treatment for hypertension and tuberculosis, among other roles.

Honouring the ASHA workers, WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said, “They play a critical role in India’s primary health care system, including during the COVID-19 pandemic, providing essential health services to millions of people. In Hindi, ASHA means hope. And that is exactly what the ASHAs deliver.”

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is in Japan on a two-day visit, congratulated the ASHA workforce.

He said, “Delighted that the entire team of ASHA workers have been conferred the WHO Director-General’s Global Health Leaders’ Award. Congratulations to all ASHA workers. They are at the forefront of ensuring a healthy India. Their dedication and determination is admirable.”

ASHAs have been a critical link between the healthcare delivery system and the community. During the Coronavirus pandemic, ASHA workers played an instrumental role in saving the lives of hundreds of thousands of coronavirus patients through early detection of cases and ensuring that information regarding the protection from the pandemic is disseminated.

There have been numerous accounts about how some ASHA workers had to stretch for over 14-16 hours a day during the pandemic despite meagre salaries.

WHO South-East Asia Regional Director Dr Poonam Khetrapal Singh said, “ASHAs are true champions of health who help bring primary health care to people’s doorsteps. Their work has been exemplary, especially during the pandemic. I congratulate them for this truly deserving recognition.”

The WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus announced six awards on Sunday to recognise outstanding contributions to advancing global health, demonstrated leadership and commitment to regional health issues. Dr Tedros decides on the awardees for the World Health Organisation Director-General’s Global Health Leaders Awards. The ceremony for the awards, which were established in 2019, was part of the live-streamed high-level opening session of the 75th World Health Assembly.

Among the honourees is ASHA, which means hope in Hindi. The more than 1 million female volunteers in India were honoured for their crucial role in linking the community with the health system, to ensure those living in rural poverty get access to primary health care services, as shown throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, he said.

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