Assam offers medical advice on phone

July 20th, 2010 - 4:45 pm ICT by IANS  

Guwahati, July 20 (IANS) The Assam government Tuesday launched a healthcare facility under which patients will be able to seek life-saving tips from doctors round-the-clock on an emergency telephone number, Health Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said.
The emergency helpline 104 will become operational by October.

For the service, a memorandum of understanding (MoU) was signed between the Assam government and the Health Management Research Institute, a non-profit making healthcare facility provider based in Andhra Pradesh.

“Assam has become the second Indian state after Andhra Pradesh to have this call-a-doctor facility and the idea is to provide instant help to a patient or their families,” Sarma told IANS.

“In many cases, a patient dies before one realises what to do and where to go. Now one has to just dial 104 and a doctor would give the best possible advice,” he said.

About 50 doctors would be exclusively assigned to handle this emergency service round-the-clock that could cater to about 6000 telephone calls per day.

“A doctor attending the emergency 104 call could at times guide the patient to the right hospital or suggest the name of a specialist doctor the patient needs to see depending on the nature of the illness,” Sarma said.

“People can also seek counselling, especially students during examinations and people living with HIV/AIDS or other such ailments,” he said.

The 108 emergency ambulance services in the state is doing wonders since it was launched two years ago with patients across the state availing the facility of getting shifted from homes to the nearest hospital in the quickest possible time, he said.

Last year, the government recruited 800 doctors, a move that has revolutionized the rural healthcare sector, he said.

Other schemes include daily cash allowance of up to Rs.100 besides free meals and medicines for all patients admitted to government hospitals in Assam.

As part of the scheme, named Maram (Assamese for love), a patient in medical college hospitals receives Rs.100 daily in cash while those in district hospitals get Rs.75, he said.

More than 500 children with hole-in-heart were being provided free surgery at a Hyderabad hospital with the government bearing the transportation and accommodation costs of the child and an attendant, he said.

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