From January 3 to 17, 2,201 callers from city have sought health information; health department plans to popularise helpline, get more manpower

More than a fortnight since the 104 health helpline was launched, a considerable number of callers seeking health information have been from Chennai.

Officials of the health department said the overall response for the helpline had been ‘good’ and they are now planning to take up measures to popularise the facility across the State and expand it with additional manpower.

The helpline — which was launched on December 30, 2013, and implemented under the Tamil Nadu Health Systems Project — has received, till January 17, a total of 48,449 calls from across the State. On an average, it has been getting 1,000 calls a day; the highest number of calls received was 8,090 on January 3.

Officials of the GVK Emergency Management and Research Institute (EMRI), which operates the helpline, said of the 48,449 calls received, 25,419 callers proceeded till registration stage. Of this number, 10,966 went on to complete the purpose of calling such as seeking counselling services and health advice, and airing grievances.

An official said many persons had called to check if the helpline was working and cut the call once it was answered, while some called for general inquiries regarding 104.

“The district-wise call report shows that most callers seeking information were from Chennai. From January 3 to 17, 2,201 callers from the city have sought health information by calling the helpline,” B. Prabhudoss, head of marketing and hospital relations of GVK EMRI, said.

Tiruvallur district (820) came second followed by Kancheepuram (775) and Trichy (513). While 6,005 callers sought health advice provided by qualified nurses, 1,247 persons sought advice from doctors. While counselling services were also sought for psychological support, the number of callers putting forward grievances was comparatively low.

“We want the helpline to become the eyes and ears of the health department to keep track of the health services, epidemics and functioning of health facilities. We have projected that at least 10,000 persons will use the facility every day over the next few months,” director of public health and preventive medicine K. Kolandaswamy said.

The department will soon undertake measures to advertise the service. “Slowly, we will put up advertisements of 104 at primary health centres, government hospitals and public places. We will also gradually expand the manpower at the call centre,” he added.

Currently, 30 persons, including medical officers, counsellors, health advisors and call centre staff, are working for the helpline service, Mr. Prabhudoss said.

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