Dial 104 for medical help

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By Staff Reporter in Guwahati
  • Published 14.11.09
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Sarma: Innovative

Guwahati, Nov. 13: Come January and medical advice in Assam will be just a phone call away.

Health and family welfare minister Himanta Biswa Sarma today announced that the government would start a toll free call service, “104”, for people seeking medical advice on all ailments.

A pool of 100 doctors will be available for the service round-the-clock to answer any query related to health.

“The prime objective of the service is to take basic healthcare service and doctors closer to the people. It will also reduce the load of patients in hospitals and health centres, as people would receive medical advice for various ailments over the phone. Doctors will also prescribe medicines as permissible under the rules of the Medical Council of India to patients in non-emergency cases through the 104 service for immediate relief.

“Assam will be the second state after Andhra Pradesh in the country to implement such round-the-clock medical advice service. The state government has reached an agreement with the Hyderabad-based Health Management and Research Institute to introduce the service,” Sarma said.

There will be a call centre to make the 104 service operative throughout the state.

He said patients can make calls to the centre and these would be diverted to respective doctors after assessing the nature of ailments.

“If someone makes a call regarding ailments about his or her child, it would be diverted to a paediatrician,” he said.

Sarma said the service would also be very useful for patients who are reluctant to go tohospitals and health centres to disclose or discuss ailments like AIDS because of the social stigma attached to the disease.

He said these patients can receive medical advice over phone and the identity of the callers would be considered confidential.

The minister also said the government had initiated a programme to reduce the human fertility rate in the state as a population control measure.

“The average fertility rate or reproductive capacity of women in Assam is 2.7, which implies that they can give birth to more than two babies. The government wants to bring down the fertility rate to 2.1 or 2 to ensure that women do not give birth to more than two children by 2011. To achieve this goal, the health department has taken up various initiatives to motivate both men and women to go for simple sterilisation procedures to control their reproductive capacity.

“The National Rural Health Mission is taking up ambitious and comprehensive schemes for birth control in the state,” Partha Jyoti Gogoi, a senior official in the Union health ministry said.