In a major exercise, 1.6 lakh accredited social health activists have tracked in two phases over 30.43 lakh migrants who returned to Uttar Pradesh during the COVID-19 lockdown and assisted the state government in contact tracing and community surveillance, the Union Health Ministry said on Tuesday.
The ASHAs tracked 11.24 lakh migrant returnees in the first phases and 19.19 lakh in the second, the ministry said, adding that they not only identified 7,965 persons with symptoms but also regularly followed up on their health status.
"With the surge in the cases of COVID-19 in the country and the influx of migrant population from hotspot areas, one of the major challenges in Uttar Pradesh was to cater to the healthcare needs of returnees and arrest the spread in its rural population.
"ASHAs have played a critical role in supporting the state's COVID-19 management during this crisis," the ministry said.
Uttar Pradesh has reported 672 deaths and 22,828 cases so far, according to the Union Health ministry data updated at 8 AM.
The ministry presented a case study of a 20-year-old native of Bahraich district (Huzorpur Block, Nibuhi Kala village), who worked at a juice shop in Mumbai and returned home along with other migrant workers in a truck in early May after travelling for five days.
As soon as Suresh reached home, the local ASHA - Chandra Prabha -- met him and recorded his details. She informed the Rapid Response Team (RRT) of the district, which advised Suresh to quarantine himself at home, the ministry said.
Chandra Prabha also counselled the family members and explained in detail the steps to be taken during home quarantine. She undertook regular follow up visits and kept in touch with the family.
Her alertness, motivational skills and support ensured that as soon as Suresh began experiencing symptoms, he was sent to the Community Health Centre in Chitaura, which is also a designated COVID Care facility.
Chandra Prabha also ensured that Suresh's family members and his fellow migrant workers were referred for COVID testing, the ministry said.
According to the Union Health ministry's statement, ASHA's have facilitated sample collection from 2,232 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 and volunteer community patrols keep in touch with the ASHAs and provide details of the migrants in a village, who in turn help with the follow up.
"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," the ministry said.
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, soaps and sanitizers as they go about their duties, it 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, the ministry said.
The contribution of ASHAs in non-COVID essential services has been exemplary. At the Ayushman Bharat - Health and Wellness Centres, ASHAs are contributing in conducting line listing of all individuals, risk assessment and mobilization for screening for chronic illness like hypertension, diabetes, three cancers (oral, breast and cervical cancers), TB and leprosy.
They have also been instrumental in providing Reproductive Maternal Neonatal and Child Health (RMNCH) services which were directly affected by the lockdown measures and the necessity of maintaining physical distancing, the ministry said.
They (ASHAs) have created awareness about the availability of these services and helped people to access them, it added.
The National Health Mission supports nearly 10 lakh ASHAs in rural and urban areas of most parts of the country. Nearly 1/6 th (1.67 lakh) are from Uttar Pradesh, it added