4th ANNIVERSARY OF MERI SAATHI FREE HELPLINE
Meri Saathi Free Helpline is an initiative implemented by Marie Stopes Nepal since 2011 December to improve the knowledge and awareness of sexual and reproductive health among Nepali people, especially among reproductive age groups.
Despite large leaps in the evolution of information technology, information on sexual and reproductive health remains mostly inaccessible to people, mainly young girls, whose right to sexual and reproductive health information is often restricted by contextual cultures and family. As a result, the purpose of establishing the sexual and reproductive health helpline -Meri Saathi is to promote wide access to sexual and reproductive health information through the establishment of a helpline which reproductive age groups may call discreetly.
The Meri Saathi Free Helpline reaches the young women and men of Nepal through the establishment of Helpline center where individuals may seek advice on sexual and reproductive health via free-of-charge calls. Helpline staffs are trained in family planning and reproductive health issues and receive and respond to the sexual and reproductive health questions and problems of on-air clients Sunday to Friday, In addition, staff orients and advises callers to seek health care at qualified public or private public facilities including Marie Stopes Centers.
Meri Saathi Helpline has completed its fourth year. After the establishment of Meri Saathi Helpline in December 2011, the numbers of calls increased gradually, reaching 500 callers in 2012. However, the breakthrough came in September 2013, when Marie Stopes Nepal managed to promote Meri Saathi in its every promotional materials and events. At the same time, Meri Saathi was highly promoted through youth interactive weekly radio program Khuldulee. Due to high number of callers, the number of staff at the helpline was increased from two to four counselors. In 2014, the Meri Saathi Helpline received a total of 30,000 calls (2500 callers/month). The service is particularly popular among young people. 70% of all callers are younger than 25 years old. Surprisingly high number of men used the service. Although male callers are high, most of the issues are related to their female partners like girl friends and wives. Meri Saathi has been a good initiation which has been talking to huge number of male regarding SRHR. 50% of callers are referred from the youth interactive weekly radio program and 14% are referred by satisfied clients.