News : Phones Keep Buzzing at Health Helpline
Jan 8, 2014 -- Ever since its launch on December 30 last, the 104 health helpline has received humongous response with over 27,000 callers contacting it. Efforts are on to strengthen the manpower at the call centre operating out of the city.
According to officials, 27,276 calls were received in eight days till January 6. While over 1,000 calls were received on an average in the first three days, the numbers shot up between January 2 and January 4, with January 3 recording a maximum of 8,090.
Despite the high number of calls, only around half of them were for actual assistance, the rest made by curious people trying to figure out whether the helpline actually works, said an official. "We are flooded with calls. Many calls were put on waiting, and were later missed. As many as 12,881 calls have been attended so far," an official with the helpline said.
Over 6,200 callers required immediate help like information on a nearby health facility, first aid for certain ailments and counselling. As many as 4,084 callers sought health advice from officers, who are qualified nurses.
Meanwhile, over 700 callers sought advice from doctors, who were available round the clock on shifts, while 92 requested counselling.
The helpline also received 49 calls seeking improvement of service in their local government hospitals. The information was passed on to the departments concerned and calls were closed only after receiving positive feedback, the official said.
"There were callers complaining about pollution from nearby factories. We responded by contacting the departments concerned," the official added.
What is novel about the helpline is its openness to suggestions and complaints. Officials pointed out that though similar helplines function in Assam, Andhra Pradesh and Rajasthan, they do not encourage complaints. TN alone accepts complaints and acts upon them in real time, the official said.
"We will double the number of people manning the helpline," said Dr K Kolandasamy, Director of Public Health and Preventive Medicine.
Posted by Veronica Silva Cusi, news correspondent
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Published: Friday, January 10, 2014