MEDICAL ADVICE NOW JUST A CALL AWAY

Mohammad Affanul Haque

Chennai, Nov. 24: Have a fever and don’t know what it is? Dial 104!

The Corporation’s Health Department has geared up to deal with monsoon related illnesses by starting a new health helpline wherein if you have fever, and are not sure about what infection you have, you can call 104, describe your symptoms and based on that, the paramedics will provide you with medications.

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The health helpline, which works 24x7, also provides details of the nearest clinical testing and treatment centres in your locality. The health department plans to train all its paramedics at the intermediary and tertiary levels which include the Primary Health Centres (PHCs) and the Community Health Centres (CHCs).

The Corporation has tied up with GVK Emergency Management and Research Institute, a pioneer for this service. The Memorandum of Understanding signed between the Corporation and GVK EMRI states that the ambulance and paramedical services will be provided by the GVK EMRI located at Triplicane, while the helpline will be manned by the health department of the corporation.

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Prabhudoss, the head of marketing and hospital relations of GVK EMRI, said, “The health helpline, which functions 24x7, has geared up to deal with monsoon-related illnesses and has trained all its paramedics in the standardised advice that is to be given in all cases”.

“If we feel there is an emergency and the resident needs immediate care, we will dispatch an ambulance. Our paramedics have been trained on all kinds of fevers as well as water-borne and respiratory ailments,” added Prabhudoss.

According to an official release from the Health Department, Dr. T G Vinay, Deputy Commissioner, reviewed all measures taken to control the increasing mosquito menace owing to the increasing reports of fever cases from various districts across the state.

The project which is a part of the Tamil Nadu Health System Project (TNHSP) had earlier planned to conduct a trial run for the medical service helpline, but with GVK EMRI on board as a partner, they scrapped the trial run, and launched the helpline directly.

“One of the main issues faced was accessibility to the number through all service providers, but all technical aspects have now been sorted out and we hope the service is a success,” said the Project Director, Dr. Shambhu Kallolikar.

He added that the callers can get information on the nearest hospital, nearest MRI or CT scan centre as well as advice on precautionary steps to be taken during the rainy season. Issues like absence of doctors in government hospitals and shortage of drugs and poor quality of essential services will also be addressed. 

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“Even as you call for an ambulance in an emergency, you can simultaneously dial ‘104’ to find out the first aid that can be administered to the victim. If a call turns out to be an emergency, an ambulance will be dispatched,” said Prabhudoss of the GVK EMRI. 

The registration officer who will answer the call will take down the caller’s name and address and transfer the call to the official concerned. Then, two registration officers, four paramedics, one doctor and one counselor will handle the system.

Serene

Aishwaria Lakshmi Vidyasagaran, lecturer at Indian Institute of Public Health Service was skeptical of the new service launched by the city’s corporation. “All the propaganda by the government will lead to nothing, if people aren’t provided emergency service when they need it the most”, she added.

The service joins a long list of helpline numbers in the city – 100 for police, 101 for fire, 108 for ambulance and 103 for traffic related issues. But Chennai is not the first city to have a service like this; Bangalore and Hyderabad have 104 as a helpline number already.

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