Word ‘Asha’ dropped from govt-supplied condom packets following protest
The struggle of Asha workers for the last two years to save their dignity which suffered due to word ‘Asha’ printed on condom packets has finally yielded a result, and the new packets won’t have that word, said officials of the health department.
As part of the protest the Asha workers refused to distribute it in several districts. The protests had started from Seoni and then had spread to several other districts.
Accredited social health activists (ASHA) commonly known as Asha workers had been protesting the National Rural Health Mission’s (NRHM) decision to print Asha on the condom packets distributed by them among people for the sake of family planning.
Now, the new packets being distributed don’t have Asha word on it in a few districts including Mandsaur and Bhopal.
National Health Mission state office confirmed the change in the name from July but they are not acknowledging that it happened due to the protest.
National Health Mission in-charge director Vandana Khare said, “The name has been changed to Nirodh from Asha Nirodh. We got new packets from the centre in July.”
She, however, said, “I can’t comment why it happened.”
According to health department sources, the matter was discussed in detailed in a recent meeting held in New Delhi. “The officers from Madhya Pradesh requested that the word ‘Asha’ be removed as they felt ashamed in distributing the packets and it was affecting their work,” said an officer.
Requesting anonymity, an Asha worker from Mandsaur said, “I was facing criticism in the village and in the family for that. My husband warned me that either I should leave job or stop working till the name has been changed. This month, I got the packets which don’t have our name. We are happy that our protest was heard.”
A social activist Komal Jaiswal said, “The Asha workers, who are the back bone of health department, were being mocked and teased by people for distributing Asha Nirodh. Throughout the protest the government remained in denial mode and said the name of the condom was not ‘Asha’, but ‘Sasha’. But anyone can read it very clearly that it was Asha. We ran a campaign and requested to change the name from Prime Minister to Chief Minister. Now, it’s a great success for us.”
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