Contraception is a choice that is crucial for the health and wellbeing of families which is not given adequate attention by either the community or the community health workers. Therefore, it is of crucial importance to build the capacity of these workers as “they provide a critical link between their communities and the health and social services system” (Bhutta Z A, et al).
Cluster modules are short interactive case studies which are administered during the cluster meetings to deliver focussed information on family planning. These case studies are common scenarios that Accredited Social Health Activists (ASHAs) encounter in the field which generate discussions and enable the ASHAs to apply their knowledge on Family Planning (FP) in real life situations.
Traditional classroom training was the main method used for building capacity of ASHA. While classroom training is informative, the retention and application of information is as too much of information is given in a short span of time. In response to this, cluster modules were developed as low dose high frequency dose trainings in order to systematically reinforce the FP messaging. This is augmented by a continuous assessment of knowledge of ASHAs based on which the modules are revised and delivered on a continuous basis. This addresses critical gaps in knowledge and its application and use.
These modules have been rolled out during cluster meetings by the Block Community Process Managers, ASHA Sanginis and RMNCH+A counsellors across the state. The counsellors as well as ASHAs have acknowledged the usefulness of the modules. They acknowledge that this has helped them to disseminate FP messages more effectively in the community.
Cluster Meetings in the Time of Covid-19
In order to focus ASHAs on the current needs of the community during the COVID-19 pandemic, IHAT developed audio case studies dealing with the unique challenges of access during recent lockdowns. These case studies were shared through WhatsApp with the counsellors, who further shared it with the ASHAs and Sanginis of their areas. This helped to bring back a holistic focus on both continuation as well as new initiation of FP services among eligible couples during the pandemic.
“The mentoring that is provided to us during the cluster meetings is helping us to enhance our capacity to interact with the beneficiaries and create awareness on family planning methods. I am able to empathize with them and guide them on various family planning schemes that can be availed”.ASHA
Shahjahanpur District, Uttar Pradesh
“The cluster meetings helped us to understand the permanent and reversible methods of family planning. Earlier, community members used to feel that we are talking about birth control; however, now as I am able to explain about the different contraception options available like Nirodh, Mala – N, Chhaya, Antara injection, emergency pills, etc, the beneficiaries too are convinced to opt for family planning methods.”ASHA
Shahjahanpur District, Uttar Pradesh
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