'Arogyavani' flooded with sex queries

Wrong number

The report revealed several callers from Bengaluru Rural and Dakshina Kannada (Mangaluru) were curious about contraceptives, safe sex and sexual disorders. Representative image/Pixabay

Arogyavani was launched as a health helpline by the state government in 2013. But in the next six years, ‘104’ was flooded with calls from lakhs of people who were worried about just one thing — sex.

While the government’s aim was to take healthcare to the grassroots and provide quality consultation for minor ailments, an evaluation of the helpline revealed that more and more people were dialling to talk sex and associated disorders.

The study commissioned by the Karnataka Evaluation Authority, a copy of whose report was accessed by DH, said that a majority of the callers inquired about masturbation, use of contraceptives, erectile dysfunction, loss of libido, pain during intercourse, etc, and sought medicines for the same.

The helpline also saw a surge in the number of prank calls (by more than 60%) since its launch.

The report revealed several callers from Bengaluru Rural and Dakshina Kannada (Mangaluru) were curious about contraceptives, safe sex and sexual disorders, while those from Dakshina Kannada, Hassan, Kodagu, Kolar, Mandya, Mysuru, Shivamogga and Tumakuru rang up to discuss loss of libido. Many women from Bengaluru Rural, Kodagu, Kolar, Udupi and Chamarajanagar called up with pregnancy-related issues.

Pimples were another major worry according to the survey, which analysed calls made to the helpline between 2013-14 and 2016-17. Women callers constituted just 8.22%, the report stated. Though queries pertaining to sexual problems were high, the department has refused to consider them as general health issues.

Prank calls increased from 37,171 in 2013-14 to 2.10 lakh in 2016-17, calling for a stringent regulatory mechanism. The study recommended that the department categorise calls on the basis of gender and ensure that women callers were addressed by female staffers and vice versa.

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