Supporting Frontline Female Health Workers in Odisha

Supporting Frontline Female Health Workers in Odisha

Through Mission Sanjeevani Oxfam India has been working continuously to strengthen the medical infrastructure of institutions and enhancing capacities of the frontline health workers to strengthen the prevention and management of COVID-19.

Early in our programme intervention, we realised that to reach out to the most vulnerable rural population, we need to work with grassroots level frontline health workers who are the last mile connection with the community. Not only do they understand the challenges and context of the community but are also usually the first responders and important members of any task force for disaster response within the community.  They are also often at heightened risk of contracting the disease considering that their work involves working at the grassroots, meeting several people every day, doing house visits—of which many could also be COVID-19 infected—without any protective gear.

The ASHA intervention programme was envisaged to support them in their work by providing essential safety and protective kits and materials along with training to enhance their capacity. Oxfam India is planning to reach out to 60,000 ASHAs across 12 states of which we have reached out to over 31,000 ASHAs till now. 

Odisha was part of the plan too. However, around the time Oxfam India was in talks with the National Health Mission (NHM) Department in the state for training and providing kits, the state government announced a programme for providing one-time assistance of INR 10,000 to all the ASHAs in the state for buying essentials equipment and safety kits for effective management of COVID and non-COVID healthcare services. The amount is expected to be utilised on purchasing a mask, sanitiser, soaps, gloves, face shield, thermal scanner, helmet, bicycle (if not purchased earlier or damaged), umbrella, torch, chappal, water bottle, carry bag, mini battery-operated mike, and conveyance (repairing of a cycle). This was a welcome initiative from the Govt. of Odisha that ensured the safety and protection of the ASHAs and provide an incentive towards their work.

Oxfam India changed tack and saw this as an opportunity to reach out to other frontline female health workers. After several discussions with the NHM department, it was decided that in Odisha under the Mission Sanjeevani programme Oxfam India would provide safety kit for 6688 female health workers, who are part of the COVID response, in all the 30 districts. 

The safety kit includes a thermal gun with batteries, a pulse oximeter with 2 sets of batteries, 5 sets of nasal masks, 100 surgical masks, 2 sets of reusable gloves, 20 sets of disposable gloves, 2 sets of aprons, 200 ml of alcohol-based hand sanitisers,  2 sets of handwashing liquid and 1 kit bag to store all the materials. The kits were designed to ensure safety and protection of the health workers and to support their effort in effective prevention and management of COVID-19 in the field.

Since the target was to reach to all the Female Health Workers in Odisha in all the 30 districts, a systematic handing over was planned in coordination with the NHM and Odisha State Medical Corporation (OSMCL). The materials were procured and kept in the warehouse of Oxfam India in Khorda, each kit was packed in a bag/kit, and counted before handing over to the Govt. officials. These were then handed over to the OSMCL departments who in turn would dispatch the kits to the respective districts. The entire process is monitored and followed up by the NHM department.

Proper coordination is ensured to make sure that the items reach the designated venue and is distributed without further delays. So far, Oxfam India has handed over 4416 kits for Female Health Workers from 18 districts. 

Apart from the safety kit for Female Health Workers, Oxfam India has been responding to the COVID 19 situation in Odisha by providing medical kits to different hospitals, dry food kits and community safety kits.

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