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03 May 2010
New Delhi, India

Even a semi–literate health worker can seek expert advice using his mobile phone to dial a toll –free number for taking care of patient
Use of communication technologies like mobile phone, toll–free helpline numbers and Internet portals can help in providing better health care services, recent research on the information needs of health care professionals suggests.

The study titled "Understanding health information needs at the state, district, block and village levels" was conducted by Knowledge for Health (K4H) and John Hopkins School of Public Health Center for Communication Programs in Uttar Pradesh, funded by United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

It focused on the information needs of "ASHA" nurses who number 130,000 in Uttar Pradesh alone. The rural nurse programme is a part of the government’s National Rural Health Mission (NRHM), reports IANS.

"The needs of the particular community and the health care workers should be assessed from time to time and this new study is an attempt in that direction," Population Foundation of India Executive Director AR Nanda said.

According to a researcher, the nurses at the village level have sub–standard education qualifications but most of them use mobile phone services.

"If they have a doubt they can refer to a toll–free helpline which will guide them and fulfil their information needs," the researcher said.

"We discovered that a lot of nurses were using mobile phones. A toll–free helpline can provide them with all the answers to their queries which will help them in providing better health care services," Nandita Kapadia–Kundu, one of the researchers in the project, said.

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