Bhopal: Accredited Social and Health Activists, also known as ASHA, who have the onus of popularizing health schemes and family planning measures in rural areas, are in a fix.
Part of the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM), they were asked to distribute a condom named ‘Asha Nirodh’, but the problem began after the villagers shortened its name to ‘Asha’, the same identifier the health workers are subjected to in rural areas.
Unable to bear the ignominy, the Asha workers’ association is now planning to move the high court against the condom brand.
“We are fondly addressed as Asha didi in rural areas but the contraceptive named Asha is giving some uncomfortable moments to us as some people make occasional jokes about it,” an Asha worker wishing anonymity said.
For the time being, the ASHA workers in MP have declined to distribute these condoms among public.
The condoms are sent to Arogya Kendras of NRHM and Asha workers are required to distribute them. Around 59,000 Asha workers distribute these condoms for free as part of their duty to promote safe sex and family planning.
AT Padnabhan, the President of ASHA-USHA Sahyogini Ekta Union said the organization has written to State Director of NRHM requesting them to change the condom’s name as it causes inconvenience to the health workers addressed with the same name.
“If the State Government fails to alter the contraceptive name, we would have no option but to move the court,” Padmnabhan said.
Amulya Nidhi, a social-health activist from Indore claimed that the name Asha Nirodh is often put to use by some anti-social elements in hurling lewd remarks at the health workers and should be changed immediately.
The name ‘Deluxe Nirodh’ was changed to ‘Asha Nirodh’ by the union ministry of Health and Family Welfare in 2016. Repeated pleas to the Centre from health workers and social activists for a name change have fallen on deaf ears.
ASHA health workers are women recruits in the age group of 25 to 45, qualified up to Class 10. Provided with knowledge of medicines and a medical kit to deliver first contact healthcare, every such health worker is entrusted with the responsibility of promoting community participation in public health programmes in her village.