JEDDAH: The Saudi Ministry of Health’s 937 call center has proved to be a major success in dealing with the nation’s medical inquiries.
In September alone, more than 3,000 call handlers spread throughout the Kingdom fielded 1,955,944 queries, and during the same month the center provided 597,228 medical consultations and received 476,835 health care inquiries.
Ministry officials said that the center had booked 410,849 appointments at primary health care outlets, taken 136,691 reports, and dealt with 269,815 inquiries related to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak.
Calls to the helpline peaked during the virus lockdown period as citizens sought advice on suspected cases of COVID-19 and safety instructions on visiting hospitals.
Hanadi Abdulhadi, a mother of 5-year-old twin boys, contacted the center in early September. “One of my boys contracted an infection in his throat but we couldn’t be sure what it was especially with the onset of a fever and the rest of the symptoms appearing later,” she told Arab News.
“Though we were isolating still because I feared for the boys, I called the center and informed them of exactly each symptom in order to make a judgement — to head to the emergency room or not.”
With guidance from the phone operator, she was able to inspect her son’s throat and relay the results. “Though there were no lesions in his throat on the first or second day, I still called 937 daily to continue checking if I should take my son to the hospital,” she said.
On the third day she was able to take him to hospital when the fever was under control and lesions appeared.
Inquiries can also be directed to the ministry via Twitter, email, and instant chat on its website. It also provides services to people with hearing difficulties through a chatbot using WhatsApp messaging on 920005937.