“Even though my baby died, ASHA workers took money from me,” says Indu Devi, a resident of Ahinkatol village, in Bihar’s Katihar district. Accredited Social Health Activists (ASHAs) are community health workers instituted by the government. They are trained to work as health educators in their localities but, as this report by VV-PACS Community Correspondent Navita Devi reveals, rampant corruption prevails as ASHAs charge for their services despite consolidation by the government.
CALL TO ACTION: Call the Health Officer of Korha Block, on +91-9431801133, and demand that ASHA workers be charged with corruption if they ask for money in return to their services.
ASHAs are instituted by the government of India’s Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) as part of the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM). Pregnant women on the verge of giving birth are often harassed by these ASHA workers, who demand cash payment for services that they ought to be providing for free as per the regulations of the program. ASHA workers receive compensation from the Government for each successful case of hospitalized birth that they facilitate, but their avarice has got the better of them in Ahinkatol and they often go after hapless recently-discharged mothers — often after being discharged — leaving them with little choice but to pay up. Having taken the issue to local authorities, promises have been made to look into the matter.
This is a PACS-VV video. The Poorest Areas Civil Society (PACS) Programme and Video Volunteers have come together to create the Community Correspondents Network. The videos created by the network bring out voices from the margins, providing communications skills to marginalised individuals and advocacy tools to community-based organisations.