Accredited social health activists or Asha workers on Friday met the Moga civil surgeon to demand a new name for the “Asha” condoms they are embarrassed to promote in a door-to-door campaign.
A day after Hindustan Times highlighted the discomfiture of these woman motivators in distributing free contraceptives under the government’s family-planning programme, the Asha workers led by Balwinder Kaur met civil surgeon Dr Jajhbir Singh. “These condoms named after our designation have made us a butt of indecent jokes,” said Balwinder Kaur, adding: “We have the new stock but won’t distribute until the product is renamed.”
The civil surgeon confirmed that he had received the memorandum and said he would go to health and family welfare director Dr HS Bali for a solution. An Asha worker is a woman in the age group of 25 to 45 who is qualified up to Class 10 preferably. Provided with knowledge and a medical kit to deliver first-contact healthcare, every Asha (which in Hindi means hope) is expected to be a fountainhead of community participation in public health programmes in her village.
Asha Workers and Facilitators Union state president Kirandeep Panchola took the matter to National Health Mission (NHM) managing director Hussan Lal in Chandigarh on Friday before meeting Asha manager Monika Babbar over uniform’s colour and the regularisation of jobs. “Babbar has agreed to take up the matter,” said Panchola. Hussan Lal, however, denied that any Asha worker had raised the condom issue with him. “I got to know about the boycott only from the HT report,” he said, adding: “But if Asha workers had come to me, I would raised the matter with the higher authorities.”