Karnataka

Glitches disrupt 104 Arogyavani services

Health Department has taken up work to upgrade technology

Services of the State-run 104 Arogyavani, a free healthcare information and medical counselling helpline, have been disrupted as the Health Department has taken up work to upgrade it.

Although sources said that the helpline has been “dysfunctional” since the first week of October, officials managing the helpline said that the services were “partially” hit.

“While the helpline gets 19,209 calls a day on an average, the call volume has reduced to 16,967 calls a day in the last one month owing to technical glitches,” said an official, adding that the problem will be sorted out in a week.

Callers to the helpline said that they were disappointed as they only heard a recorded message and advice on what to do if they have fever.

“The phone gets disconnected after that or even if it gets connected to a counsellor, the line goes off even before we can complete our query,” said Ahmed Hussain, a caller from Mysuru.

A person, with HIV/AIDS, said that he tried calling the helpline for information about a particular drug.

“But I was unable to connect. It is meant to be a healthcare information helpline. We can understand if the problem is for a day or two. The service has been out of reach for the last 15 days,” he said.

The helpline run by the State Health Department, in association with Piramal Swasthya’s Health Management Research Institute (HMRI), was launched in June 2013 to assist people living in rural areas of the State to get access to a who find difficulty in accessing a qualified doctor.

The 24-hour helpline service is a robust real-time mechanism wherein any person can receive basic medical information, consultation without visiting a doctor, pharmacist or a health centre.

In addition, it provides information on healthcare service delivery and service providers such as a doctor, specialist, field healthcare workers (ASHAs ANMs) and healthcare centres such as a hospital/clinic, diagnostic centres and blood banks.

From 10,000 calls in the first year, the volume of calls attended by counsellors in the helpline has increased to nearly 20,000 a day. Since its inception, the helpline service has attended to 17,6,86,597 calls.

Admitting that the service has been disrupted, R. Narayan, Deputy Director (EMRI), who is also the nodal official for 104 Arogyavani, told The Hindu that the problem was due to work taken up to upgrade the technology.

“Following an increased call volume at the Hubbali centre, we are setting up a second data centre for 104 in Bengaluru. Moreover, the speed of the network connection is also being increased to 50 Mbps as the existing 10 Mbps speed is inadequate to handle the call traffic. The problem should be sorted out in another week,” Dr Narayan added.

GVK asked to continue services

With the Health Department yet to finalise the tenders for running its 108 Arogya Kavacha service, GVK-EMRI (Emergency Management and Research Institute), whose contract with the department to provide emergency medical response service had been terminated in July, has been asked to continue till a fresh contract is awarded.

R. Narayan, Deputy Director (EMRI), told The Hindu that work on finalising the tenders and awarding the fresh contract was under way. “We are likely to complete it by this month end. Till then, GVK has been asked to continue,” he said.

The company’s contract with the department had been terminated on charges of irregularities and violation of tender conditions. The company’s three-month notice period ended on October 13.

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Printable version | May 28, 2020 5:28:00 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/glitches-disrupt-104-arogyavani-services/article19898351.ece

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