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Centre Launches Help Line for Gen Next to Clarify Sexual Health Issues

by VR Sreeraman on September 21, 2009 at 1:07 PM
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 Centre Launches Help Line for Gen Next to Clarify Sexual Health Issues

New Delhi, Sep 18 (ANI): Population control has become a big challenge to the Indian Government since independence. The governments, both at the state and central level have initiated many programmes to control the growing population.

One such innovative, program of the Union Health and Family Welfare Ministry is the Jansankhya Sthirata Kosh or Population Stabilisation Fund.

To achieve stabilisation in population growth and to provide proper guidance, information about the reproductive health care, adolescent problems the ministry has initiated the Janasankhya Sthirata Kosh, (JSK) with a corpus fund of Rs. 100 crore.

The JSK is a registered society, combining the communication boom in the country with the felt need of people for information on reproductive health issues.

The JSK is a unique public private partnership model and has started a call centre to provide authentic information on reproductive, sexual health, family planning and infant child health.

The toll free number 1800 - 116555 has become a nation-wide help line for the Gen Next to share, and clarify misconceptions and receive proper guidance. They now have found a friend from whom they can clarify their doubts regarding reproduction and sexual health issues.

According to former Delhi Chief Secretary Shailaja Chandra, who was the executive director of JSK and played an instrumental role in establishing the call centre, " During a discussion with doctors of India's leading medical colleges, the ministry realized that in the absence of easily available, and authentic information on these issues, people would avoid seeing a doctor, would visit unqualified practitioners, adopt risky behaviour and generally be anxious or confused on what to do."

"As many families in our society still hesitate to talk about reproductive health openly, so group of doctors suggested a professional, anonymous guidance is required to address such a sensitive issue," Chandra said.

Using the professional services of a BPO, in June 2008, India's first toll free call centre for authentic information on reproductively, sexual health, family planning and infant, child health was launched.

Currently the call centre is manned by 17 trained executives and a full time gynaecologist. The National Information Centre (NIC), The National Association of Software and Services Companies (NASSCOM) and the Central Bureau of Health Intelligence (CBHI) provide technical support to the service.

"In the last sixteen months the call centre has received over 60,000 calls from different parts of the country and the numbers are growing," said the full time gynaecologist in charge of the call centre.

According to the data maintained by the call centre, calls from almost all districts of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar have been received.

" The call centre provides reliable information, anonymously on all those questions people want to ask but are shy or hesitant to do so face to face. We guide them with additional information, like child health and pregnancy related issues," she added.

Primarily aimed at adolescents, about to be married and newly married couples, the service addresses concerns like contraception, safe abortion, pregnancy, male sexual health, sexually transmitted diseases, infertility, menopause, puberty, infant and child health issues among many others.

"An anonymous and confidential service, fill a huge gap in information especially in the small towns and villages in the states like Bihar, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh Rajasthan and Haryana," Chandra said.

"Though we haven't initiated any major publicity drive we are happy that the JSK call centre has reached even remote villages of our country. That itself self shows the need for such a help line to our society," she added.

"A majority of the calls received are from the north Indian states. While a majority of the calls are related to pregnancy and contraception issues, male sexual health concerns are also high," the doctor in charge said.

The JSK has won the prestigious 'eINDIA 2008' award under the category of Best Government Initiative for mapping health amenities with the help of geographic information system (GIS) maps for entire country

The GIS maps with a unique amalgamation of latest census data gives a picture of each district, its sub-divisions and the population of every village along with the distance to the health facility.

The JSK and its call centre showed importance of public private partnership in addressing a cause. The fruits of the administration can reach the common man only with such initiatives. By Shreeraj Gudi

Source: ANI

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