The Timorese Ministry of Health and the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) today launched the country's first telephone line dedicated to mental health, within the framework of actions related to covid-19.
The free telephone service – available at number 12123 – was officially launched today in Dili by the director general of Health Services, Odete Viegas, and by the head of UNICEF in Timor-Leste, Valérie Taton.
Odete Viegas stressed that the Covid-19 “Created increasing challenges” for the entire population, including changes in lifestyle, fear and less connections with families and friends.
"With this direct line, we hope to offer East Timor's children and young people a new way to seek help and support to overcome some of the greatest challenges of our time," he said.
Valerei Taton recalled that "the effects of the new coronavirus pandemic were diverse and did not discriminate", with impacts at various levels, including on the mental health of the country's inhabitants.
"UNICEF and our partners have been working to ensure that children and young people are supported in all aspects of their lives that may have had an impact due to the crisis, crucially, their mental health," said Taton.
“Timor-Leste's large young population is the future of the country, so all aspects of its health are crucial to the country's development. This direct line will be useful for you and your families ”, he stressed.
UNICEF supported the development of the telephone service with information and technology resources, including computers, monitors and other equipment, also collaborating in public announcements, on radio, television and social networks, to publicize the initiative.
The telephone service will be operated jointly by the Ministry of Health and PRADET, a Timorese non-governmental organization that for the past 20 years has provided psychosocial services in Timor-Leste.
Calls to the new phone line will be answered by trained mental health counselors, "who can offer telephone support and referrals to other health services," according to a statement sent to Lusa.
The telephone line will also provide information to those seeking support for the main health problems, such as maternal, child and newborn health and nutrition.
The Government of Japan funds the initiative, including all information material, including radio and video messages.
The country's three telecommunications operators, Timor Telecom, Telcomcel and Telemor, also support the initiative.
Timor-Leste is currently without active cases of Covid-19, with the last positive case recorded on April 24, having recovered the 24 patients.
About 75 people remain in quarantine in the country that is in the third consecutive period of 30 days of state of emergency that, in this case, ends on June 27.
At the global level, according to a balance sheet by the AFP news agency, the Covid-19 it has already caused more than 385,000 deaths and infected more than 6.4 million people in 196 countries and territories.
More than 2.7 million patients were considered cured.