Mumbai, Dec 1 :
Over 4,000 calls have been made on the country’s first national AIDS helpline, 1097, launched on behalf of the National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO).
The round-the-clock service was launched on World Aids Day (December 1) by Piramal Swasthya who have partnered with Population Services International (PSI).
Piramal Swasthya is part of Piramal Foundation and had been selected by PSI/NACO in a competitive bid.
The funds from USAID were routed by PSI through NACO to consolidate the 1097 services present in different States and re-position it as a national service, an official familiar with the development told Business Line.
There have been over 4,000 calls till 6 pm, the official said, adding that the nature of the calls was still to be mapped.
More than 80 per cent of women and approximately 70 per cent of men in India do not have comprehensive knowledge about HIV/AIDS, a note from Piramal Swasthya said, and the 24X7 national AIDS helpline call centre would work as a one-stop solution for people across the country.
Callers would get information on AIDS, counselling services, information directory/referral service and grievance redressal (complaints & feedback escalation), the note said.
And significantly, it would be in eight languages at present — Hindi, English, Telugu, Tamil, Kannada, Marathi, Assamese and Bengali.
Reducing new infections
The service would be supported by a hub based in Hyderabad, staffed with 20 counsellors. At the call centre, incoming calls would be detected and re-routed to regional centres depending on the language chosen by the caller.
The counsellors span across nursing, paramedics, sociology, psychology and social work, among others.
They have counselling skills with requisite training from Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) in collaboration with NACO, the note said.
In fact, through this particuar model, the Government is aiming to achieve its goals for the fourth phase of NACP which is reducing new infections by 50 per cent and providing comprehensive care, support and treatment to all persons living with HIV/AIDS.
Balaji Utla, Head – Piramal Swasthya, pointed out that they had already run the 104 healthcare helpline in six Indian states and have reached out to 70 million people.
And hence, the 1097 partnership was natural progression.
Source: Hindu Buisnessline