The accredited social health activist (ASHA), the family planning friends rural India have tracked nearly 30.43 lakh migrant returnees in two phases in Uttar Pradesh (UP), one of the hubs of labourers in India.
In a gigantic exercise, State’s 1.6 lakh ASHAs have tracked the migrant returnees in two phases- 11.24 lakh in the first and 19.19 lakh in the second phase, according to the union health ministry. The National Health Mission (NHM) supports nearly 10 lakh ASHAs in rural and urban areas of most parts of the country. Nearly one sixth (1.67 lakh) are from Uttar Pradesh.
ASHAs have assisted in contact tracing and community level surveillance. The ASHAs not only identified 7965 persons with symptoms but also regularly followed up on their health status, the centre said. “We had to ensure reporting the presence of all migrant workers returning from various towns and cities to their respective ANMs. ASHA and Auxiliary nurse midwife (ANM) to ensure this info reaches to Medical Officer In-charge of Community Health Centre (CHC)," said Manju Verma, an ASHA worker in Banda.
“They have facilitated sample collection from 2232 returnees of which 203 were found to be positive and were referred to covid health care services. Nigrani Samitis (Vigilance Committee) have been formed in all the villages under the Gram Pradhan. The Samiti members/ volunteers community patrols keep in touch with the ASHAs and provide her details of the migrants in the village, who in turn help with the follow up on the migrants," the health ministry said.
ASHAs have played a critical role in sensitising the communities about the preventive measures to be adopted such as regular hand washing with soap and water, importance of wearing masks when out in public spaces, and maintaining adequate physical distancing. As a result of their efforts, there has been enhanced awareness about essential and non-essential healthcare services and how to access these. The ASHAs are provided basic protective gear like masks and soap/sanitizers as they go about their duties, the government said.
ASHAs have assisted the Panchayati Raj Department in development of the community quarantine centers, in buildings like Anganwadi centres and primary schools. They have ensured adoption of Aarogya Setu app at the community level through awareness generation and supporting in its installation.
As the process of unlock 2.0 is to start from Wednesday and the migrant movement has stopped now, the police and administration are further using services of ASHA workers for effective containment of covid-19 in hotspots. “We have 51 containment zones in the district. Ensuring doorstep delivery of basic services and access control. We are going to provide Oxymeters and forehead infrared thermometers to every revenue village and village level machinery including ASHAs and panchayat secretary are being used for surveillance at village level," said Akash Tomar, Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Etawah, a district in UP. “We have over 100 mobile surveillance teams for door to door check-up. Aggressive enforcement of social distancing and mask guidelines is being done by police," he said.
According to the UP government around 35 lakhs migrants returned from different cities to the states.