KOCHI: While the state makes rapid progress in healthcare, a certain section of people is being left out. The tribal community living in Kuttamppuzha and Kothamangalam belts is often denied healthcare facilities because of factors like distance and lack of awareness. But, not anymore. The National Health Mission (NHM) and the District Health Department have handpicked 19 volunteers or Asha workers from the 16 tribal hamlets in the two areas.
Under the scheme, 'Ooru Mitram', these volunteers have been given the training to handle medical emergency and administer first aid. They were declared certified Asha workers at a function which was attended by Health Minister KK Shailaja at Kothamangalam on Sunday.“Though NHM conducts medical camps, the distance from these 'oorus' to nearby hospitals or camps has always posed a problem. During medical emergencies, this has been a major issue. The scheme has been launched to ensure healthcare facilities to every member of the community,” said Sajana C Narayanan, district Asha coordinator.
Volunteers with the education qualification of class VIII or above could apply to be an Asha worker. They should also be married and with a child. “Over 40 women expressed interest in becoming volunteers. Of them, 20 were selected and given training in first aid and handling of medical equipment like glucometer and BP apparatus,” said Sajana.
As part of the training, the volunteers were sent to the hamlets accompanied by trained health workers. “We monitored their efficiency before appointing them as a volunteers,” she added.The response has been overwhelming. “Many volunteers say they have patients lining up early in the morning itself. Otherwise, they could avail of such facilities only when the medical camps are conducted,” said the official.
Each volunteer was provided with the necessary medical equipment by the district administration. “A wheelchair, almirah, thermometer, first aid kit and medicines were provided to each Asha worker. They will also be paid a sum for their service along with incentives. A review meeting will be held every three months and their services will be evaluated,” said Sajana. According to NHM sources, the treatment provided at these hamlets will not be in defiance of their traditional practices.