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ASHA Radio Programme under NRHM, Assam


National Rural Health Mission (NRHM), Assam has selected and trained 28798 Accredited Social Health Activists (ASHAs) as a bridge of communication between the community and health service delivery. ASHAs play a major role in the implementation of all MCH related schemes of NRHM, as they are the ones who directly communicate with the community which they belong to. Therefore, it is imperative to keep the ASHAs updated with various kind of information related to MCH services and schemes, build communication capacity enabling them to effectively engage at the family level and hold dialogues with mothers.

Keeping this communication need in mind, National Rural Health Mission, Assam in collaboration with All India Radio (AIR), Guwahati initiated a bi-weekly radio programme for ASHAs namely “ASHA Radio Programme” in August’2007. The touchy music and notes of the title song helped in mobilizing the ASHAs and increase the listenership.

 Partnership and Alliances

Along with NRHM and AIR, the partnership was further extended with the involvement of UNICEF Assam, specifically to strengthen the area of content development. NRHM provides fund for the Radio Programme and AIR is executing the plans for production of radio programme under the guidance of NRHM. The responsibility for the broadcasting of the programme is with the Marketing Division of AIR along with the IEC/BCC division of NRHM. The contents of the programme are supplied by NRHM one month ahead of the broadcast of the programme and accordingly AIR plans the programme, arrange artist and produce the programme for broadcast.

 Major Elements of the project

At the initial stage the duration of programme is aired for 30 minutes and its target is also general public along with the ASHAs as the main target audience. In a week the programme is aired twice, i.e. in the same week the programme is repeated, hence the programme is aired 4 times in a month. At the first stage it will be broadcasted in three languages viz. Assamese, Bodo and Bangla and later in other local languages. The content of the programme includes updating the ASHAs with new development and also informing them about the mission for upgrading the standard of life of the rural people in respect to health and hygiene and particularly promoting the healthy environment for mother and child. Along with health topics a programme on Village Health Nutrition Day will also be broadcasted every month in which the content will be to inform the ASHAs on health day & their roles & responsibilities in organizing the health day along with Auxiliary Nurse Midwives (ANM) & Anganwadi Worker (AWW).

The methodology used is infotainment which means information with entertainment that includes discussion with a representative from the health department, songs and play. Further, the topical issues are also discussed to provide information, e.g. before the immunization week information & discussion on this is done. Similarly, before any specific day/ event the topic related to that event/ day is discussed in the programme.

At present after the launch of the programme following issues were discussed – roles and responsibility of ASHAs under NRHM, Importance of Immunization, Family Planning, Safe Drinking Water and Village Health Nutrition Day and role of ASHAs in it. Similarly, till March’08 the issues to be discussed have been planned, they are on – Malaria, Anemia, Breastfeeding, Diarrhea, Sanitation, Measles, Tuberculosis and Anti Tobacco and other health related issues prevalent in the community.

 Feedback Mechanism

The programme is a two way process, meaning feedbacks and suggestions are taken from the ASHAs. For this pre paid post cards with printed address of office of the AIR, Guwahati along with health messages for IEC will be provided to ASHAs through Block Programme Managers, and no postal charges taken for these post cards. The AIR, Guwahati is given the responsibility to sort the letters and the queries that need special attentions are sent to the office of the Mission Directorate. At present the address of the AIR is told at the end of the programme as the post card is yet to be implemented. Each ASHA will be given 12 postcards and if required then they can get it from the BPMs. The feedback mechanism is divided into individual and general queries/complains. In case of individual queries/ complains the office of Mission Directorate will take the necessary actions whereas for general queries/complains which is beneficial for all the ASHAs are addressed in the radio programme. Along with this the experience of ASHAs are also shared in the programme.

 Monitoring & Evaluation

  1. The District Media Expert (DME) with the District Programme Manager (DPM) and Block Programme Manager is responsible for collecting the response from ASHAs. For this a pre designed questionnaire will be given to them which will be analyzed by the districts.To know the impact of the programme a survey by an independent agency will be conducted. At the initial stage this will be done after every six months.

 Cost Analysis

If we analyze the cost of the radio programme then it is seen that the procurement cost for 26247 radio sets is Rs. 1.3 Cr. Consequently, for production of ASHA programme total cost incurred is Rs. 94100/-, out of which per episode the amount spent is Rs. 48000/- for developing the ASHA programme and Rs.23050/- which is one time expenditure for developing the theme song in one language.

  Content of the programme

The UNICEF support to this unique initiative focuses on the content development of episodes, by incorporating key messages from Facts For Life. The other areas looked after by the HR support provided are checking with ASHAs at the field level about the programme content, receive feedback on the spot and also promote listenership by using the platform of VHNDs on Wednesdays. The subjects of the radio programme covered ANC, PNC, Diarrhoea/Malaria management, Communication technique for ASHAs etc. Special episodes are arranged on special/ occasions like, child protection month, World Population Week etc or during emergency.

The duration of the bi-weekly, bi-lingual Radio Programme is 30 minutes and the target audience are both the ASHAs as well as other health or related service providers and the community members. The programme is aired twice a week, the second episode in the week being a repeat broadcast of the first. It is broadcast in two languages: Assamese and Bengali. The present programme schedule is as follows:

ASHA Radio Programme Schedule


Time of Broadcast











12:30 pm

12:30 pm

7:15 pm

12:00 noon


11:00 am

12:30 pm

8:10 pm

12:00 noon

The content of the programme mainly focuses on updating the ASHAs on new developments pertaining to NRHM and also suggest newer ways to help upgrade the lives of the rural masses in respect to health and hygiene and promoting a healthy environment for the mother and child. This programme educates the ASHAs on the importance of organizing Village Health & Nutrition Day (VHND) and their roles and responsibilities in organizing the same along with the Auxiliary Nurse Midwives (ANMs) and Aanganwadi Workers (AWW).

The methodology used in this programme is aptly described as infotainment, which suggests information wrapped in a package of entertainment that includes discussions, song and drama. Further, topical issues are also discussed as and when required to provide information, e.g. before the immunization week information & discussion on this is done. Similarly, before any specific day/ event the topic related to that event/ day is discussed in the programme.

At the beginning, the radio programme was presented in narrative way, but following HR support provided by UNICEF on content development, the format of the programme had been changed and a drama portion has been included in the programme to render it listener friendly. The main characters of the of this infotainment serial have become popular among both the primary and secondary listeners which are: Tarulata (the ASHA) Bakuli Jethai (elderly woman of the village), Nanda Master (village school teacher) and others. These characters are easily identified by the listeners in their own settings and additional characters like the Gaon Burah, panchayat ward member are coined as and when required keeping in mind their roles in social development.

Topics discussed in ASHA Radio Programme:

Following issues have been discussed in the ASHA Radio programme till July’2010 – Roles and responsibility of ASHAs under NRHM, Importance of Breast Feeding, Immunization, Family Planning, Safe Drinking Water, Hygiene & Sanitation, Importance of Institutional Deliver, ANC, PNC, Complementary Feeding, Child care, Village Health Nutrition Day and role of ASHAs in it, Malaria, Diarrhoea, Anaemia, Measles, Tuberculosis, Anti Tobacco, AIDS and other health related issues prevalent in the community. Detailed list of episodes with the topics is enclosed in the Annexure.

Feedback Mechanism & Monitoring

As far as feedback is concerned, a proper mechanism is put in place. For this purpose, pre-paid post cards with printed address of the office of the AIR, Guwahati along with health messages for IEC have been provided to ASHAs through Block Programme Managers, and no postal charges are taken for these post cards. Each ASHA is given 12 postcards and in case of further requirement, they can collect the same from the BPM. In case of individual queries/ complains the office of Mission Directorate takes necessary actions. Also, general queries and complaints, which are beneficial to all ASHAs are addressed in the programme itself. Already more than 20,000 postcards from the ASHAs have been received and the queries of them have been sorted out and time to time the answers are broadcast through the programme.

The content developers for ASHA Radio programme regularly conduct district/ block visits to monitor various activities of ASHAs, holding of VHNDs, etc. During their visit and during the training programme or any gathering of ASHAs the feedback are taken through focussed discussions and filling up of specific questionnaires.

Fig (a) – Post Card for ASHAs

Cost Analysis

The production cost per episode for ASHA radio programme is approx. Rs. 38000/-.


The ASHA radio programme is an initiative of NRHM, Assam to provide relevant and current information on NRHM programmes to the frontline workers working in the field and to be in direct touch with them to obtain feedback on access to entire NRHM driven programme. Along with this, the programme also targets the health issues that are prevalent in the community keeping the community as the target audience which ASHAs need to know to discuss with the community in village. In this way, even the ASHAs can work effectively as they know about the current programmes and health issues to discuss with the community and a feeling that they are also a part of the system. The ASHA Radio Programme is a useful tool to upgrade the knowledge level of ASHAs regarding various aspects of health and communication and hygiene, practices.

All the ASHAs have been provided with a radio set in Assam to encourage the programme listening and its promotion. Programme broadcast on Wednesdays during VHND sessions have further helped the cause. But there are challenges faced due to poor radio signal received in many areas of the state which needs to be addressed along with sustaining the interest of the programme listening by innovative measures and addressing the communication need properly.


Episode wise topics discussed in ASHA Radio Programme
Episode No. Date of Broadcasting
through AIR, Guwahati
1 10-08-2007 Opening Ceremony
2 15-10-07 Meeting Coverage, Duty of ASHA
3 22-10-07 Roles and Responsibilities of ASHA
4 29-10-07 Immunization, Duty of ASHA
5 11-05-2007 Roles and Responsibilities of ASHA
( ASHA as community mobilizer)
6 11-12-2007 Safe drinking water
7 19-11-07 General cleanliness
8 26-11-07 Immunization
9 12-03-2007 Duty of ASHA (AIDS)
10 12-10-2007 Family Planning
11 17-12-07 Duty of ASHA (Awareness)
12 24-12-07 Immunization
13 31-12-07 Duty of ASHA
14 01-07-2008 Village Health Day
15 14-01-08 Malaria
16 21-01-08 Total Immunization
17 28-01-08 Causes of Anaemia and Diet in Pregnancy
18 02-04-2008 Family Planning- 1
19 02-11-2008 Family Planning - 2
20 18-02-08 Family Planning - 3 and Pregnant woman
21 25-02-08 Family Planning -4 (Use of Contraceptive)
22 03-03-2008 Red Ribbon Express (AIDS)
23 03-10-2008 Breast Feeding
24 17-03-08 Dysentery
25 24-03-08 TB
26 31-03-08 Sanitation
27 04-07-2008 World Health Day
28 14-04-08 Malaria(General)
29 21-04-08 Malaria (Use of Mosquito Net)
30 05-01-2008 Letters(Answered questions from ASHAs), Malaria
31 05-05-2008 Care of New-born baby (0 to 6 months)
32 05-12-2008 Care of New-born baby (6 to 12 months)
33 19-05-08 Pox
34 26-05-08 Ill effects of substance Abuse
35 06-02-2008 Diarrhoea
36 06-09-2008 Total Sanitation
37 16-06-08 Early and exclusive breast feeding
38 23-06-08 Communication of ASHAs
39 30-06-08 Roles and Responsibilities of ASHA
40 07-07-2008 Safe motherhood
41 14-07-08 Anaemia
42 21-07-08 Adolescent Health
43 28-07-08 World Population Day
44 08-04-2008 Wild Polio Virus Type-1
* 07-08-2008 Special programme on ASHA Convention
45 08-11-2008 Male responsibility in reproductive health
46 18-08-08 Benefit of Breast Feeding
47 25-08-08 Complementary Feeding
48 09-01-2008 Growth of the Chield
49 09-08-2008 Diet for preschool children
50 15-09-08 Protin Energy Malnutrition
51 22-09-2008 Village Health and Sanitation Committee
52 29-09-2008 Diarrhoea
53 06-10-2008 Diet during Pregnancy
54 13-10-2008 Diet during lactation
55 20-10-2008 Balance Diet for Adults
56 27-10-2008 Vitamin A deficiency
57 03-11-2008 Use of Nischay
58 10-11-2008 De-worming
59 17-11-2008 Menstruation hygiene
60 24-11-2008 Immunization (1st Round)
61 01-12-2008 AIDS (World AIDS Day)
62 08-12-2008 Family Planning I (Emphasis on Spacing-IUCD, Oral Pills, Condoms)
63 15-12-2008 Family Planning II (Emphasis on Permanent Methods))
64 22-12-2008 Bird Flue
65 29-12-2008 Immunization (2nd Round)
66 05-01-2009 Baby Care
67 12-01-2009 Pneumonia
68 19-01-2009 Skin Care
69 26-01-2009 Diabetes
70 02-02-2009 Malaria
71 09-02-2009 Eye Care
72 16-02-2009 Immunization
73 23-02-2009 Tooth Care
74 02-03-2009 “Mamoni” Scheme
75 09-03-2009 Importance of ANC
76 16-03-2009 “Mrityunjay”-108
77 23-03-2009 Evening OPD
78 30-03-2009 Immunization
79 06-04-2009 Summer diseases
80 13-04-2009 AYUSH
81 20-04-2009 MMU
82 27-04-2009 Sinusitis
83 04-05-2009 Breast Feeding
84 11-05-2009 ORS-Zinc
85 18-05-2009 Malaria
86 25-05-2009 Cleanliness
87 01-06-2009 Swine flue
88 08-06-2009 Diarrhoea
89 15-06-2009 Neo natal Care (Including number of home visit, by ASHA)
90 22-06-2009 Pregnant women & saving
91 29-06-2009 Adolescent Health
92 06-07-2009 Hygiene and Sanitation
93 13-07-2009 VHND
94 20-07-2009 VHSC
95 27-07-2009 Breast Feeding and Child
96 03-08-2009 Breast Feeding (Mother point of view)
97 10-08-2009 Tobacco
98 17-08-2009 VHND (Guidelines)
99 24-08-2009 Guidelines of “Mamoni” scheme
100 31-08-2009 Safe Drinking water and announcement of Vitamin A & RI sessions in September VHNDs
101 07-09-2009 Diet for lactating mother
102 14-09-2009 De-worming and Anaemia
103 21-09-2009 Diet for Adolescent girls
104 28-09-2009 Japanese Encephalitis (JE) and Message on Swine flu
105 10-05-2009 Total Sanitation Campaign +Message on RI and Vitamin A coverage on September VHND
106 10-12-2009 Balanced Diet + Announcement of Hand Washing day
107 19/10/2009 Zinc-ORS
108 26/10/2009 Hand Washing and Personal Hygiene
109 11-02-2009 Cholera
110 11-09-2009 Diabetes
111 16/11/2009 Iodine deficiency
112 23/11/2009 Cancer
113 30/11/2009 Care during old age +Announcement of World AIDS Day
114 12-07-2009 AIDS
115 14/12/2009 Newborn Care
116 21/12/2009 VHND-A platform for ANC and Immunisation
117 28/12/2009 High Blood Pressure (Emphasis on Pregnancy induced Hypertension)
118 01-04-2010 “Mamoni”-Guidelines and emphasis on A/C opening
119 01-11-2010 Routine Immunization- Right vaccine at right time and how dropouts can be covered
120 18/1/2010 Pregnancy related Anaemia
121 25/1/2010 ARI
122 02-01-2010 Previous Episode
123 02-08-2010 Previous Episode
124 15/2/2010 Early and exclusive breast feeding
125 22/2/2010 Complementary Feeding
126 03-01-2010 De-worming
127 02-08-2010 Vitamin A deficiency
128 15/3/2010 Diarrhoea
129 22/3/2010 Child Protection Month-RI, Vitamin A, De-worming
130 29/3/2010 VHND- Guidelines
131 05-04-2010 World Health Day- Focus on Age at marriage- Announcement on Safe Motherhood Day-11th April
132 12-04-2010 Family Planning- 1
133 19/4/2010 Family Planning-2
134 26/4/2010 Safe Drinking Water
135 03-05-2010 Symptoms of diarrhoea. Discussion on Sanitation and personal hygiene
136 10-05-2010 Diarrhoea management and use of ORS & Zinc
137 17/5/2010 Diarrhoea management and use of ORS & Zinc
138 24/5/2010 Use of Zinc during diarrhoea
139 31/5/2010 Danger signs of diarrhoea
140 07-06-2010 Symptoms of Malaria, why & how?
141 14/6/2010 How to get rid of Malaria? Discussion on cleanliness
142 21/6/2010 Role of ASHA—RD kit
143 28/6/2010 Treatment of Malaria
144 05-07-2010 Nischay/Why ANC/Registration/ Information on “Mamoni”
145 12-07-2010 Why “Mamoni”
146 19-07-2010 What is to be done in ANC/ Rest during pregnancy/ “Mamoni”
147 26-07-2010 Diet during pregnancy



Fig (a) ASHA Radio
Fig (b) ASHA with Radio


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