Evaluation of ASHA program in Karnataka
As part of the National Rural Health Mission, recruitment of rural health volunteers called ASHA (Accredited Social Health Activist) has been functional since 2007 in Karnataka. Along with the Karnataka State Health Systems Resource Centre (KSHSRC) and the Department of Health & Family Welfare (DoHFW) of the Government of Karnataka (GoK), we undertook an evaluation of the ASHA programme using a mixed methods approach (quantitative and qualitative research techniques) to understand the ‘functionality’ and ‘effectiveness’ of ASHA workers in 3 districts (Chamarajanagara, Kolar & Haveri) in Karnataka. By studying the healthcare workers and community beneficiaries, we identified their primary role as link-worker/facilitator, and to a lesser extent as that of health functionary and as social activist. We also identified several strengths and opportunities for enhancing the program in the continuum of care that they offer to mothers, children and families through antenatal care, safe delivery, postnatal care, early childhood nutrition & care, routine & sick child care, care for common communicable diseases, and family welfare.