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Did you know about Pakistan’s free reproductive health helpline?

The number is 021-35205383

SAMAA | - Posted: Nov 13, 2020 | Last Updated: 2 months ago
SAMAA |
Posted: Nov 13, 2020 | Last Updated: 2 months ago
Did you know about Pakistan’s free reproductive health helpline?

Photo: United Nations Population Fund/ https://pakistan.unfpa.org

Pakistan has a reproductive health helpline that provides counselling and support to women across the country free of cost. But not many people know about it.

The helpline was launched on June 15 by the Association for Mothers and Newborns and Population Council. Its collaborating partners include the Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists and the United Nations Population Fund. 

The helpline can be reached at 021-35205383 and will be available Monday to Saturday, from 11am to 7pm. Earlier, the helpline was active from 9am to 5pm, but AMAN’s experience showed that calls usually started coming in later in the morning. 

The helpline is operated by four people working in two-hour shifts, explained Dr Humera Mansoor of AMAN. The women on the helpline are highly experienced medical consultants. 

Some of the services it offers include counselling for:

  • Premarital screening tests 
  • Gynecological infections
  • Menstruation
  • Pregnancy
  • Postpartum (post-pregnancy) care
  • Newborn health and diseases
  • Breastfeeding
  • COVID-19 in pregnancy
  • Family planning
  • Abortion care
  • Contraceptives (for both married and unmarried women)
  • Emergency contraception
  • Menopause 
  • Infertility
  • Mental health

Women of all ages are encouraged to call, said Dr Mansoor. It is also possible to request for the same doctor for future calls. 

This telemedicine facility takes calls from all across the country. So far, we have received around 350 calls, Dr Mansoor told SAMAA Digital. She lamented that more women did not know about the free service.

The helpline also has a WhatsApp number, but it’s only supportive. Women who are unlettered and unable to read their test results or medical reports can send a picture of the documents to 0309-2901335. They will then receive a call from the same number. This number is active 24/7.

Sexual, reproductive and maternal health services have been disrupted over the world including in Pakistan because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The epidemic has reversed the positive trends in all maternal and child health indicators in recent weeks, which calls for targeted interventions,” says the United Nations Population Fund.

UNFPA estimates that in Pakistan a 10% decline in service coverage of essential maternal care could result in 103,563 new births without access to health facilities leading to 1,086 additional maternal deaths and 30,833 additional stillbirths.

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