BHUBANESWAR: Chief minister Naveen Patnaik on Friday announced incentives for around 47,000 accredited social health activists (ASHA), who are engaged across the state to promote right health care practices among communities.
The trained women health workers would now get grant-in-aid of Rs 10,000 (one-time assistance) for purchase of items like steel almirah, bicycle, umbrella, rechargeable torch light and chappal.
The amount under the AHSA exit policy, a one-time financial benefit to the ASHAs for 10 years of service or attaining 62 years of age has also been doubled from Rs 10,000 to Rs 20,000 by the state government.
The above decisions would have an additional financial burden of around Rs 50 crore on the state exchequer, said an official source.
Announcing the sops during the Ama Mukhyamantri…Ama Katha (our CM…our issues) programme, Naveen lauded the role of ASHAs in healthcare services.
“Their service in helping the women and children as well as creating awareness on health issues like malaria, diarrhea, leprosy and TB is commendable. Because of the contribution of the ASHAs, Odisha has made a mark in the country in reducing infant and maternal mortality rates,” said Naveen.
The announcements, months before the forthcoming general and assembly polls, is seen as a major step in consolidating BJD’s support base among the women voters as the ASHAs are engaged in community services.
The ASHAs are engaged in promoting universal immunization, referral and escort services for reproductive and child health, other healthcare programmes and construction of household toilets. In Odisha, average population served by one ASHA is 887.
The ASHAs, at present, are getting fixed monthly remuneration of Rs 2000. Under the ASHA Matrutwa Yojana, the state government provides Rs 1000 per months for six months for their care during pregnancy and motherhood. Besides, the state government also provides compensation up to Rs 1 lakh for death and permanent disability of ASHA workers.
Shalini Pandit, mission direction of the National Health Mission, Odisha said the chief minister has announced the incentives recognizing the dedicated service of ASHAs to mothers, children and protecting people from various diseases even during adverse weather condition.
Official sources in the state health and family welfare department said more than 56 lakh (86 per cent) institutional deliveries were escorted by ASHAs in the last five years. As part of the home based newborn care initiative, the ASHAs attended to over 22 lakh newborns over the period.
Sita Mohanty, an ASHA from Ganjam said such incentive would encourage them to work hard.
The announcement has not gone down well with the opposition parties as BJP leader Golak Mohapatra said the state government’s motive is to gain political mileage. Congress leader Sasmita Behera said the BJD government is misutilizing the exchequer for political gain.