In a significant move aimed at recognizing and supporting the crucial role played by Accredited Social Health Activists (ASHAs), the Meghalaya Health Department has announced an increase in fixed incentives. ASHAs, who were previously receiving Rs. 2000, will now enjoy an enhanced fixed incentive of Rs. 3000 under the newly introduced Community Based Health Incentive Scheme for ASHA.
Decisions Made in a Meeting with ASHA Workers’ Union
This decision was made during a meeting chaired by the Meghalaya Health Minister, Dr. Ampareen Lyngdoh, who engaged in discussions with office functionaries of the Meghalaya ASHA Workers’ Union at the Main Secretariat Conference Hall in Shillong.
The state currently allocates approximately Rs. 17 crores annually for fixed incentives at Rs. 2000 per month for ASHAs. Additionally, performance-based incentives receive funding ranging from Rs. 22 to 23 crores annually from the National Health Mission (NHM).
The fixed incentives were initiated in April 2021 to address the unique challenges faced by villages with small populations, ensuring equitable financial support for ASHAs across the state. With the introduction of the Community Based Health Incentive Scheme for ASHA, the fixed incentive has been increased to Rs. 3000.
Under this new scheme, the Village Health Councils (VHCs) will play a crucial role in evaluating and reviewing the performance of ASHAs concerning specified health milestones. The revised incentives take into account the contributions and efforts of ASHAs, VHCs, and health teams in achieving community-level health indicators.
Chief Minister’s Support for Additional Incentives
Chief Minister Conrad K. Sangma has expressed agreement in principle to consider an additional Rs. 1000, augmenting the existing Rs. 2000 fixed incentive from the state government.
The performance indicators for ASHAs encompass various health-related responsibilities, including efforts to save the lives of mothers and children, screening and referral of Non-Communicable Disease (NCD) cases, ensuring full immunization coverage for newborns up to one year of age, and achieving 100% Antenatal Care (ANC) coverage for pregnant mothers.
To streamline the newly announced incentive scheme, a dedicated committee will be established. This committee will comprise ASHA representatives from each district, VHC representatives, NHM officials, and state officials. It will also address any grievances raised by ASHAs during the discussion.
Sampath Kumar, IAS, Principal Secretary of the Health & Family Welfare Department, Government of Meghalaya, emphasized the state’s commitment to addressing the concerns and challenges faced by ASHA workers. The implementation of the “ASHA First” application and the issuance of an executive order to emphasize the roles of other healthcare professionals are part of the state’s strategic initiatives to support ASHA workers and enhance healthcare services at the community level.