Health Helpline gets a flurry of calls from 2011 to 2017

Bhutan Health Help Center (HHC) recorded 113,221 calls for ambulance emergency services from 2011 to 2017, the highest among other services, according to a health ministry report.

“Bhutan ambulance emergency service is mostly used by people with known illness and emergency cases like accidents, strokes, heart attacks and trauma,” an official from HHC said. “Sometimes the calls fall in the category where the ambulance is not often used due to cancellation, which is related to response time.”

HHC was initiated in 2011 to provide medical emergency response in the country within one hour to over 90 per cent of the population through toll free number 112. HHC provide services like ambulance emergency service, medical counseling, health care information directory, complaint logging system (Service Improvement Program) and medical triage using CAS. HHC has also started suicide prevention and tobacco cessation helplines.

HHC also attended 4,903 calls for medical advice and counseling and 44 calls for suicide, the report says.

An official from HHC said, “However we also face criticism from the people saying when they call   our toll free number, the lines are always busy. This could be because while some people call to seek emergency response, there are also people who make prank calls. And we would like to request people to stop making prank calls”.

On April 4 the health ministry signed a contract agreement with Bhutan Telecom limited to upgrade current software to a new version called Emergency Response Center System (ERCS). “ERCS would be the secured web based system which will provide emergency medical services and the new software is expected to improve the quality of emergency medical services to the general public”, Chief Executive Officer, Dr. Karma Sangay said.

HHC is also looking forward to integrate fire and police and operate all ambulances (100+) under HHC control.

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