Giving Compass' Take:

• India Development Review explains the roles and benefits of Frontline Health Workers for communities without access to traditional medical services. 

• How can funders support the work conducted by Frontline Health Workers? Where is this type of support necessary and efficient? 

• Learn how Community Health Workers can reduce malnutrition

Who are Frontline Health Workers?

Frontline Health Workers (FLWs), also known as Community Health Workers, are those who take health services directly to communities, where access is often limited.

In India, FLWs are women who come from the communities that they are serving; they act as an essential link to health facilities by bringing services to people’s doorsteps.

India has three types of FLWs that fall within the purview of two ministries, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) and the Ministry of Women and Child Development (MoWCD).

What do they do?

Anganwadi workers (AWWs) have varying responsibilities, from conducting regular health surveys of families and maintaining files and records to spreading awareness on health, nutrition, family planning, and child growth and development. AWWs also coordinate with block healthcare establishments and inform them of any cases of disabilities or infections among children. They are responsible for immunization of children as well as their pre-school education.

Accredited Social Health Activists (ASHAs) go door to door visiting the poorest and most vulnerable, counseling couples and pregnant women, supporting peer educators at the village level, helping with village health plans, providing medical care for minor ailments such as diarrhea and first aid for minor injuries, and mobilizing people for immunizations. They also create awareness about the various health and health-related services available to people, and encourage them to use those services. Additionally, they work with adolescents, bring married couples to primary health centers (PHCs), provide contraceptives, monitor pregnant women and accompany them to medical facilities for delivery.

Auxiliary Nurse Midwives (ANMs), unlike AWWs and ASHAs, play a supervisory role, and participate in a range of health activities such as maternal health, child health, and family planning services, nutrition and health education. They also work towards improving environmental sanitation, immunization for communicable diseases, treating minor ailments, and offering first aid in emergencies and disasters.

Read the full article about Frontline Health Workers in India at India Development Review.