Hotline-118 provides inclusive assistance to the population serving as a general public health service

July 19, 2023

Bishkek, 19 July 2023 – United Nations Development Programme, Korean International Cooperation Agency, together with the Ministry of Health gathered partners to share the results of their efforts to expand the general public health service through the data-driven hotline-118. To implement the project UNDP contracted the Soros Foundation-Kyrgyzstan.

Now, the service, which has provided assistance to hundreds of thousands of Kyrgyzstanis during the COVID-19 pandemic, is operating in all regions of the country and providing first medical advice by phone.  

During the most active waves of the pandemic, one of the critical challenges for people in Kyrgyzstan was to obtain high-quality health information of COVID-19. An emergency hotline was sustained with the support of UNDP in 2021 during the spikes on COVID-19 in the country. In December 2021, UNDP and KOICA signed a cooperation agreement to further establish, strengthen and integrate emergency response hotline 118 on health issues within the framework of the project «Support to COVID-19 Response Through Data-Driven Hotline-118».

The Project re-designed and integrated an effective COVID-19 emergency response hotline-118 service with the existing infrastructure of public emergency hotline-112. Under this new architecture, aligned with the Ministry of Health’s broader public hotline vision, this tool serves as an integral part of the public health service package provided to the general public to ensure the protection of lives in the emergency phase.

The intervention has been conceptualized around achieving the following:

1. Ensure further provision of healthcare assistance on COVID-19 and vaccination to the general public; 

2. Implement an inclusive approach to improve access to emergency information to the general public; 

3 Ensure informed decisions around public health interventions through data collection and analytical tools.

In 2022 new equipment was handed over to hotline-118 for a total of 1.9 million soms to improve the quality of work and geographical expansion throughout the country. Comprehensive assistance included the complete re-equipment of the hotline-118 service with the necessary equipment (computer equipment, monitors, wi-fi routers, smartphones, licensed software, multifunctional devices, etc.), as well as providing consulting support in the preparation of a team of specialists and in the systematization of work, including training, monitoring and process support.

After the launch of all services of the "Hotline 118", the residents of Kyrgyzstan have access to more advanced advisory assistance, including:

  • Reception of appeals/calls from citizens coming to the PHC organization through the hotline-118, Internet connection, or sent by mail;
  • Registration of appeals/calls of citizens in an electronic journal in the database of the Bitrix system;
  • Provision of the information requested from patients regarding COVID-19 and other diseases (hypertension, diseases of the cardiovascular system, endocrine diseases, infectious diseases, and measures for safe behavior), other primary consultation on somatic diseases, collection of epidemiological anamnesis according to the established form, filling out an electronic questionnaire, providing working information on family doctors and the schedule of their work;
  • Conducting an online rapid clinical assessment of the patient's condition and transferring information to a mobile team or family doctor who decides the tactics of managing the patient: leave the patient in self-isolation, send a mobile team or a specialist, depending on the reason for the appeal;
  • Ensuring control over the timely consideration of applications for the departure of mobile teams, etc.

Despite the decrease in the level of the pandemic during the start of the project, more than 20,000 calls were received asking for information on the possibility and ways of obtaining vaccinations, as well as advice on further actions for the disease and primary symptoms. Data analysis showed that more than 80% of callers «received» necessary information and support regarding the operation of hotline-118.

The hotline-118 will continue to serve as a tool to combat not only COVID-19 but also other types of diseases that the general public seasonally might face, especially in vulnerable times and reaching the most vulnerable layers of the population.