India may have many challenges on the Healthcare front but one cannot deny the new initiatives being taken by state governments to improve the standards. Earlier this year I wrote about E Mamta the initiative from the government of Gujrat to reduce mortality rates among mothers and infants. This week the government of Karnataka is launching the Healthcare Information Helpline.
The Helpline is going to be available by dialing 104 on your land lines The network infrastructure is being provided by BSNL. The system would have the capability to support 100 simultaneous calls with the capacity to expand to 300 calls if required. Currently the government has sanctioned around 7 crores to buy the hardware and software infrastructure to handle this center.
Though the location is not known as yet, the plans are to acquire 1500 Sq feet location in Hubli to build the call center. The center would be manned by doctors who would provide consultation for minor ailments and follow it up with a sms prescription for the callers. For serious ailments the center would fix up appointments with specialists. The helpline would also cater to patients suffering from mental ailments, with doctors providing counselling services. Initially the center would have the capability to handle 100 calls simultaneously .
Also the government estimates that it will take around 70 lakhs a month to run the center and has allocated 9 crores for operational use. The helpline has been successfully implemented in states like Andhra Pradesh and Assam.
In my opinion this is a great idea.
One the helpline would definitely reduce the need for patients with minor ailments to visit hospitals. This not only saves the time of the patients but also reduces the stress on the exiting healthcare infrastructure. As the patient could reach the helpline immediately, it would be easier to detect and treat conditions that have the potential to become major conditions.
Secondly as the center would be set up in a smaller city, it will create new avenues for employment in the area.
Thirdly many times patients with mental illnesses do not get the care that they deserve. It could be a combination of social stigma and a lack of trained professionals to handle such cases. The helpline would reduce the gap and help from that respect.
Overall I think this is a great initiative but again like all government initiatives would need excellence in execution to achieve its goal.