The exclusive medical helpline launched by the state government to offer all sorts of medical-related advice is yet to reach rural population due to poor awareness about the scheme.
‘104’ helpline service was launched in December 2014 to help villagers not accessible to health centres at the time of emergency. But the Perambalur district administration has embarked on a move to sensitize the rural population in the district about the helpline service.
A message about the helpline service will be printed on the outpatient token issued in all the primary health centres across the district.
"Compared to rural population, the urban people make use of the facility to get instant opinion from the team consisting of physicians, paramedics, etc. Since town residents are more prone to health complications due to job stress, financial burden, marital discord, and calls from them frequently land at our centre seeking advice. However, the response from rural people is comparatively less. So, we are attempting to create awareness among them by taking various measures," team leader of 104 helpline T Rajaram . Perambalur district was the first one to create awareness among rural people about the helpline service.
A source privy to the development said some of the staff in PHCs felt inconvenienced to attend calls diverted from ‘104’ to take care of medical assistance to the needy people. Hence, they kept the exclusive mobile phone given to them for this purpose, switched off. However, officials hope that the awareness drive will sensitize people to call 104 and keep the staff alerted always.
People can get information about the nearest health facilities, blood bank, blood donors, specialists in government hospitals etc through the call centre. The counselling to allay suicidal tendency was also available with the centre. Another factor preventing many people from calling the helpline is charge for the call. Unlike the ‘108’ service which is a toll free, the helpline 104 is not a toll Free. Officials also feel that the rural people may be hesitant to use the paid service.