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J Health Popul Nutr. 2015 Mar;33(1):137-45.

Assessment of 'accredited social health activists'-a national community health volunteer scheme in Karnataka State, India.

Author information

1
Department of Community Health, St. John's Medical College, Bangalore, India.
2
Karnataka State Health Systems Resource Centre, Bangalore, India.
3
Division of Epidemiology and Population Health, St. John's Research Institute, Bangalore, India.
4
Department of Community Health, St. John's Medical College, Bangalore, India ; Division of Epidemiology and Population Health, St. John's Research Institute, Bangalore, India.

Abstract

About 700,000 Accredited Social Health Activists (ASHA) have been deployed as community health volunteers throughout India over the last few years. The objective of our study was to assess adherence to selection criteria in the recruitment of ASHA workers and to assess their performance against their job descriptions in Karnataka state, India. A cross-sectional survey, using a combination of quantitative and qualitative methods, was undertaken in 2012. Three districts, 12 taluks (subdistricts), and 300 villages were selected through a sequential sampling scheme. For the quantitative survey, 300 ASHAs and 1,800 mothers were interviewed using sets of structured questionnaire. For the qualitative study, programme officers were interviewed via in-depth interviews and focus group discussions. Mean ± SD age of ASHAs was 30.3 ± 5.0 years, and about 90% (261/294) were currently married, with eight years of schooling. ASHAs were predominantly (>80%) involved in certain tasks: home-visits, antenatal counselling, delivery escort services, breastfeeding advice, and immunization advice. Performance was moderate (40-60%) for: drug provision for tuberculosis, caring of children with diarrhoea or pneumonia, and organizing village meetings for health action. Performance was low (<25%) for advice on: contraceptive-use, obstetric danger sign assessment, and neonatal care. This was self-reported by ASHAs and corroborated by mothers. In conclusion, ASHA workers were largely recruited as per preset selection criteria with regard to age, education, family status, income, and residence. The ASHA workers were found to be functional in some areas with scope for improvement in others. The role of an ASHA worker was perceived to be more of a link-worker/facilitator rather than a community health worker or a social activist.

KEYWORDS:

Assessment; Community health volunteer; India

PMID:
25995730
PMCID:
PMC4438657
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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