Ain Bahadur Gurdhami

A telephone operator fighting misinformation

In Nepal not everyone has access to the internet to learn about COVID-19. The COVID-19 hotline established jointly by the Government of Nepal and WHO Nepal has helped to reach out to thousands of people and answer the queries who can’t get access to information online.

The hotline services has also hugely helped to stop the spread of misinformation. Ain Bahadur, one of the 10 operators of the COVID-19 hotline services answers 100-200 calls fielding questions regarding Covid-19, its cause, symptoms, how it spreads and precautions to limit its spread on a daily basis. In March when the call center was recently established they answered more than 22,000 phone calls within a week's time.

Ain, a 24-year old Graduate as Health Assistant , duly records the name, age and location of the caller before hanging up and immediately answering the other call. In Nepal thousands of people who don’t have a computer or a smartphone and those who are looking for accurate information rely on the COVID-19 helpline. As of July 31st a total of 298055 calls were received out of which 160441 calls have been answered.

"Misinformation travels so fast online it can be hard to contain. Being a health assistant myself I understand the urgent need for trustworthy information about the pandemic to save people's lives. We try to make sure people have access to correct information so that they don't panic. Our work is really demanding but I don't just provide factual information which any chat-bots could do but i also love counselling and motivating the callers so that they not only understand ways to defeat the virus but also believe in themselves that they have the power to do so."