Sindh launches family planning helpline

KARACHI: Sindh Health Minister Dr Azra Pechuho on Thursday launched ‘Sindh FP2020 Helpline’ called ‘Poocho’ (Ask) that would be available for the adult population to guide them on family planning and related issues, officials said.

“This helpline is a reliable source of 24/7 family planning, sexual and reproductive health (SRH) information and counselling services, especially for adolescents and youth,” said an official after the facility was formally opened by the minister at a hotel.

The helpline has been designed and introduced by the health ministry in collaboration with Greenstar Marketing (GSM), officials in the event said.

The organisers told the launching ceremony that the helpline had initially been launched by Greenstar itself in 2005.

They said ‘Poocho’ comprised of highly-skilled team members who were committed to provide support to the callers round the clock.

The team is equipped with state-of-the-art communication systems which included inbound and outbound calls facility, outgoing SMS facility, customer relationship management (CRM) system, and family planning algorithms, integrated voice recording (IVR) and automated caller feedback facility, designers of the facility at the event told the audience.

They said a strong training and quality assurance mechanism was also an integral part of the helpline that allowed maintaining the standard and improving the quality of services.

“Poocho helpline is currently providing family planning information and counselling services to more than 3,000 women and men every month and has the capacity to serve 20,000 callers a month,” said an organiser.

Speakers said philosophy behind the helpline was to encourage people on discussing their family planning needs, and to provide them a comfortable environment where they did not feel shy to talk about their personal health issues.

“It is a platform where people are confident that they will get comprehensive family planning information and customised counselling services. It is a resource on which people trust that their information is in safe hands and their discussion will be kept confidential,” said a speaker.

Officials in the family planning ministry said a memorandum of understanding (MoU) had been signed between Sindh FP2020 and Greenstar that made the facility an official FP2020 Helpline of Sindh.

“The objective of this public-private partnership is to integrate Poocho Helpline (0800 11171) with sections of the health and FP ministries,” said an official.

The facility will also help dispel myths and misconceptions associated with family planning issues; manage side effects; provide counselling and develop an effective referral and clients follow-up mechanism, organisers said.