As COVID-19 cases continue to rise, Nepal is on 18 days of lockdown to contain the second wave of the pandemic that is sweeping across the country. Nepal is recording 60 times more daily cases than at the start of April. Both infections and death rates are record highs. The COVID-19 pandemic is overwhelming Nepal and hospitals don’t have enough beds, patients are treated outside the hospital buildings on the ground and patients are dying because of lack of oxygen.
While most of the infected patients are at home without effective surveillance, firsthand heightened emotions and psychological effects of COVID-19 were eminent. There is no choice but to be at home, and the trauma of feeling alone and helpless for their loved one all of which have worsened emotions and decisions.
To reach the people desperate for help, address their concerns, and follow up until they recover from COVID-19, Siddhasthali Rural Community Hospital set up a COVID-19 Free Helpline Service.
A full time employed field community counsellor attended phone calls and made follow-ups to patients and their family members on home quarantine. The counsellor also provided non-clinical advice and counselling including details about the isolation period and what contacts should do if they have or develop symptoms of COVID-19. The information about the availability of the service was disseminated through radio jingles on a daily basis.
Regardless of the fact that the hospital is under construction, the free helpline service was introduced in response to the need for counselling among COVID-19 patients in the community.
The Inauguration of the program was conducted on June 10, 2021. This formal program was Chaired by Mr Haribol Mahat, Mayor of Hetauda Sub-metropolitan City. Mr Bholanath Chaulagain, the Coordinator for Covid-19 of Hetauda Sub-metropolitan, Dr Aban Gautam, the Chairperson of Sidhhasthali Rural Community Hospital, and Mr TN Dhungel, In-charge of Hetauda Health Post were also present at the event. The Mayor of Hetauda Municipality handed over the toll-free number to the Field Community Counsellor.
The toll-free number is 16605752566. People from all over Nepal can contact our field community counsellor free of costs to receive support related to COVID-19. The counsellor is available from 9 am to 5 pm, Sunday to Saturday.
The radio jingle for the helpline service can be accessed below.