(This story was first published in June 2021 and has been republished in light of ASHA workers being honoured with the Global Health Leaders Award-2022 by the World Health Organisation.)
The frontline healthcare professionals have been working on a war footing as COVID-19 has ravaged the country. To celebrate the efforts of Covid heroes, Cosmopolitan India Magazine has dedicated its cover to the ASHA workers' army, "the women leading the war against COVID-19 in rural India."
The magazine has named this month’s issue as the ‘Hope Issue’. With a series of five different ‘Hope Issue’, the magazine said it salutes the courage and kindness shown by the heroes of Covid.
The covers are dedicated to the frontline warriors, followed by Sonu Sood on the second cover, the Samaritans, the animal rights workers and the ASHA workers.
"While most COVID-19 heroes wear PPE kits, in the villages, they mostly wear saris. In Uttar Pradesh (UP), it is the Accredited Social Health Activist (ASHA) workers, clad in white saris with blue borders, to be specific. The ASHA worker is, today, the first line of defence against coronavirus in most villages," it said.
The ASHA workers, the foot soldiers fighting the pandemic in India, have been working frantically on the rural frontline, multitasking even as the fear of infection remains high.
In the magazine, India Today Editor Preeti Chaudhary who has been reporting on India’s crisis through her on-ground reports, authors a piece on the selfless acts carried out by ASHA workers. Bellow are the excerpts of her essay:
“Ranjini Devi, an ASHA worker from Bhadras village in Kanpur, UP, was one of the first in her village to get COVID-19 during the first wave, and after recuperating in a government hospital for a month, she made it her life’s mission to help others in her region beat coronavirus, too. Under her charge, to date, she has ensured that 143 people from the villages get timely medical help. She also successfully convinced her own village folks to come forth and get tested for COVID-19 during the mass testing drives.
Presently, there are approximately nine lakh ASHA workers in the country, who are acting as a bridge between the government and people in the rural belt. They have been assigned the task of screening villagers, educating them about the infection, guiding them to quarantine centres, and bringing medicines to those who are COVID-19-positive and recovering at home. Armed with ill-fitted masks and just a tiny bottle of sanitiser, the ASHA worker is the biggest unsung hero of rural India currently. There have been over 80 suspected COVID-19 deaths of these heroic workers across India....”