On Sunday, India’s one million all-women ASHA workers were honoured by the World Health Organization (WHO) for providing direct access to healthcare in rural areas and for their indefatigable efforts to rein in the COVID pandemic in the country.
The Accredited Social Health Activist Workers (ASHA) are directly affiliated with the Indian government’s healthcare system in rural areas and are the first point of contact for rural residents. They gained fame during the peak of the pandemic for keeping track of coronavirus patients and conducting door-to-door checks. They also provide maternal care and immunization for children against vaccine-preventable diseases, treatment for hypertension and tuberculosis, community health care, and health promotion for nutrition, sanitation, and healthy living.
As WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said while presenting the award, “Among the honourees is ASHA, which means hope in Hindi. 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”.
According to him, the awardees demonstrate lifelong dedication to social causes, tireless advocacy, and a commitment to equity, as well as selfless service to humanity.