Special helpline set up by local administration helps over 7,300 non-COVID-19 patients in Kashmir

Srinagar, Jun 2 (PTI) A special helpline set up by the local administration here has been able to provide assistance to over 7,300 non-COVID-19 patients in getting free dialysis, chemotherapies, essential medicines and transportation during the coronavirus-triggered lockdown, a senior official said.

Deputy Commissioner of Srinagar, Shahid Choudhary, who led a team to set up the special helpline, spoke about the effectiveness of the call centre and said 'the administration has been able to help over 7,300 patients'.

The special helpline was launched by the district administration at the onset of COVID-19-response in Kashmir two months ago to take care of existing health issues with a special focus on patients suffering from kidney ailments, diabetes or cancer.

He said dialysis has remained a major demand with 3,292 patients assisted by the helpline at 12 different designated dialysis centres in the city.

The administration launched an Interactive Voice Response System (IVRS) based call centre in April aiming a holistic response to various emergencies and COVID-19 related coordination as well as addressing public grievances.

A dedicated cell in the call centre was earmarked for non-COVID-19 health issues.

Choudhary, who launched this special initiative aimed at minimising hardships faced by the patients, said free medicines were delivered to 1,811 patients by roping in drug control organisation, magistrates, police officers, volunteers and zonal officers appointed for various areas.

Apart from this, prescribed life-saving and essential drugs were arranged from New Delhi through air cargo on demand and delivered to patients at their doorsteps, he said.

Focus was also laid on transport for patients, he said, adding that a dedicated fleet of 16 vehicles was engaged for assistance of patients and by the end of May a total of 396 patients availed this facility.

The helpline also attended 39 emergencies, including fire incidents, accidents and injuries. It also assisted 107 pregnant women for required medical care, Choudhary said.

He said anti-diabetic drugs and checkups were availed by 311 patients while 178 cases of chemotherapies were assisted at various health institutions and centres in the city.

The administration pooled in resources from several schemes and few donations from philanthropists, he said.

He said the dialysis centres also agreed for no-profit-no-loss services for the cases referred by the district administration.

'These services were started in view of the nationwide lockdown announced for COVID-19 containment. The patients facing inconvenience due to the nationwide lockdown were identified and assisted by the administration.

'Now with the gradual easing of the lockdown and relaxations announced by authorities the administration is mulling to shift to the routine healthcare response for these patients,' the deputy commissioner said. PTI SKL KJ