HumanInsight Establishment of a Rapid Phone Consultation Service for COVID-19 Public Health Support in Nepal
Cureus. 2022 Aug 13;14(8):e27977. doi: 10.7759/cureus.27977. eCollection 2022 Aug.
Background The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic strained the already weak health system of Nepal, especially during the surge of the delta variant. A telephonic consultation service was rapidly established to provide free consultations to assist those in home isolation due to severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 infection. In this study, we describe the process of establishing the hotline and share preliminary findings. During the peak of the delta wave in Nepal, the hotline was started by a local non-profit organization. Methodology We established the hotline with help of a private telecommunication company. The hotline was advertised on social media, radio, and newspapers. Healthcare workers were recruited and trained and the service was provided for free. Patient data were recorded and de-identified for analysis, monitoring, and evaluation. Results The majority of the callers were from Kathmandu valley, which includes three districts, Kathmandu, Lalitpur, and Bhaktapur. Overall, 44% of the callers inquired about the clinical manifestations of COVID-19. On average, there were 75 calls each day between May 2021 and February 2022. The average call duration was three minutes and 42 seconds. Trained healthcare workers answered the calls for 15.5 hours a day. Conclusions Our work established the feasibility of a rapid hotline service in response to the pandemic causing high strain on the health system. Lessons learned from this experience can be useful for future disasters in Nepal and other places with similar health system strains.
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