SRHR Hotlines – tips from the experts
The impact of COVID-19 shows that guaranteeing access to SRHR information and resources outside of formal structures can be lifesaving.
Hotlines are key to supporting individuals in their sexual and reproductive health choices.
To celebrate the International Day for Safe Abortion, and to emphasise the importance of access to telemedicine and self-managed abortion, we have gathered some top tips from AmplifyChange grantees to make your hotline as effective as possible during a pandemic:
- Develop a responsive marketing strategy: Know who your target audience is and how to reach them. Be creative and share information about your hotline based on what works for your context. In the COVID-19 pandemic, physical or face-to-face marketing can be limited; social media, SMS messages and online campaigns are good alternatives.
- Have a contingency plan: Natural disasters and pandemics prove that the context in which you work can change overnight. When setting up a hotline, include contingency plans for unexpected events. Install the hotline and Interactive Voice Response (IVR) on a cloud server or other secure digital space so staff can continue to operate outside the office and respond to individuals’ needs when there is limited internet access. Use generators or solar panels if the electricity supply is unreliable.
- Consider broader issues and work together to provide solutions: Access to SRHR services is restricted in many countries and COVID-19 is a cross-cutting issue. Seek out as many options as possible outside of formal systems, such as safe houses for self-managed abortion, mental health and GBV support services and shelters. Connect with other actors and civil society organisations including pharmacists, health facilities, and other hotline providers to offer a broad network for referrals. Ensure local partners share the same core values towards SRHR.
- Support your team: The pandemic has increased call volumes to SRHR hotlines, placing more demand on staff. Extending your opening hours is one way to ensure continued access to information and services – but it is important to look after your team. Encourage strong well-being practices to reduce stress and stagger or rotate shifts to avoid burn-out. Keep staff motivated and up to date on new protocols by sharing information through online training and webinars.
- Be inclusive and accurate: Ensure SRHR information is inclusive of different audiences, such as people with disabilities, LGBTIQ groups and sex workers. Use trustworthy resources and bring on board legal and healthcare experts to ensure you provide accurate information. Prepare scripts on popular topics to ensure your messaging is consistent and work in the appropriate language and dialect.
- Data is power: Ensure you have a consistent, secure method to collect data from your users to improve services and create strategies to target key populations. Client input and feedback is a powerful tool. Use spontaneous checks by the hotline manager on the hotline script to ensure quality and compliance with the standards and protocols you have set.
- Ensure the safety of your staff and clients: Consider investing in holistic security training to minimise the risk from anti-SRHR, opposition groups. Have a crisis management procedure in place for emergencies. Sign confidentiality agreements and memorandums of understanding with service providers and other third parties who interact with clients.
Download our SRHR hotline tips poster
For more tips and advice on how to manage during a health crisis, see our How-to Guides on amplifychangelearn.com and follow us on:
Tips provided by AmplifyChange grantees, with thanks to:
Samsara | GIWYN (Ms.Rosy) | TICAH (Aunty Jane Hotline).