Poor women and children in rural regions of India are availing many benefits from Asha, a scheme launched by the Government of India under the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM).
The scheme aims at spreading awareness about mother-child health. Hundreds of families of Barolyahir have gained from the services rendered by the Asha.
Under this scheme, a pregnant woman is paid Rs. 1,400, so that she can afford healthy diet and also meet other expenses.
Under the scheme, the mother and child are guided about the Anganwadi (crèche and nursery centres) as well as the need to follow-up periodical vaccination on time.
"The Central Government started this scheme for holistic motherhood. This scheme was launched for the welfare of poor and to promote scientific and healthy delivery of babies. For this, we have started Asha scheme where our women counsellors visit every house of the village.
Asha is functioning in 155 blocks in Barolyahir. They work for about 1500 families.
The women engaged in fieldwork under the scheme visit each household, and conduct survey of pregnant women in the village. They maintain a survey register. They get the pregnant women registered here and also the mid-wives for pre-natal and post-natal situation," said Dr. Sher Singh, Medical Officer, Primary Health Centre, Barolyahir.
Women counsellors known as Ashayen (missionaries of hope) play a key role in this scheme.
They visit every household and educate the women on the vital maternal care.
"We tell them not to deliver babies at home and also not to visit private hospitals as they are expensive. We advise them to go to the government hospitals and get a benefit of Rs. 1,400. In addition, money for transportation is also given. Above all, under the scheme, both the mother and the child stay healthy," said Veena Tomar, a member of the Asha, Barolyahir.
These mid-wife counsellors also educate the women on family planning programmes, pre and post-natal treatment, maintaining of proper hygiene and also educating the children.
The Asha has gained widespread name and fame as evident from an increasing number of women coming forth to avail the services rendered under the scheme.
Thus today, many women prefer to visit government hospitals unlike the reliance on private practitioners in the past, courtesy the versatile and integrated services of Asha.