Taramuni has been a community health worker since 2006. Trained under AIF’s MANSI program in 2010, she is now a Sahiya Saathi (health facilitator) and supervises close to 18 community health workers, covering a population of 8500 people in rural Jharkhand. Community health workers or ASHA workers as their name suggests, are serving women and infants in the country amid the novel coronavirus pandemic.
Designed to reduce maternal and child mortality in rural, impoverished areas, AIF’s MANSI program works to empower local communities to care for their mothers and children while improving the local health system through a public-private partnership model.
Through preventative, promotive and curative care for both mothers and newborns all the way from the individual household to government health facilities, MANSI ensures new mothers and infants have the care they need to prepare for, survive, and thrive during and after pregnancy.
During this time of disruption in primary health care and OPD services in hospitals due to COVID-19, the ASHAs have ensured that maternal and newborn health services are minimally disrupted. They ensure timely registration of pregnant women and facilitate ante and post-natal care. The movement of migrant workers from different parts of the country, soon after lockdown was announced, increased the quantum of work done by ASHA workers and put them at greater risk. In the case of monitoring of arriving migrants and gathering information on their health and well-being, ASHA workers needed to be very vigilant and cautious. AIF’s MANSI team supported the ASHA workers with additional capacity building and supplied them with prevention kits.
Taramuni says, “Before the lockdown, we used to ensure that pregnant women undergo at least four Ante-natal Care (ANC) tests. Earlier, it used to be easier but now due to the social distancing measures, we are facing constraints in proper care. However, this has not stopped us from doing our duty.” ASHA workers in AIF’s MANSI program are carrying out the enormous task of bringing the inaccessible public health system closer to disempowered communities by facilitating awareness on healthcare-related information and improving utilization of existing government schemes and services.