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Supporting the call centre for the national COVID-19 hotline in Tanzania

The Government of Tanzania (GoT) coordinates its COVID-19 preparedness and response plan through a multi-sectoral National Task Force. SDC supports these efforts through its Health Promotion and System Strengthening (HPSS) project. The HPSS project provides technical and financial support in building up a National Call Centre for operating the COVID-19 hotline. The call centre utilizes modern IT systems for handling a large-scale hotline.

The first COVID-19 infection case was reported in Tanzania on 17th March 2020. Since then the Health Promotion and System Strengthening Project (HPSS) funded by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) and implemented by Swiss TPH was engaged in supporting the Government of Tanzania in the implementation of its COVID-19 Emergency Response Plan. HPSS reallocated an amount of up to CHF 222’000 to support the GoT in the COVID-19 response, out of which CHF 25’000 is dedicated to supporting Zanzibar. The project’s support is mainly provided on establishing a modern call centre and on awareness raising and communication with the distribution of 100’000 posters and broadcasting of radio spots.

On 8th of May the Minister of Health, Community Development, Gender, Elderly and Children (MoHCDGEC) Hon. Ummy Mwalimu launched the new “Afya Call Centre” for the Corona virus response hotline “199”. HPSS jointly with IMA World Health and UNFPA supported the building of the hotline’s infrastructure and expanding of its capacity.

The Call Centre was designed in a way that it can accommodate the needs of the country to respond to the pandemic: address community concerns, myths and lack of knowledge, as well as provide guidance regarding testing, care and treatment of COVID-19. The technical features of the Call Centre include an Interactive Voice Response (IVR) System for automated answers in order to free time for the operators for attending to the remaining calls. 

The IT system can technically accommodate 500 concurrent calls,   and has the possibility to be connected with stations in other cities   across Tanzania. When the Government decides to establish other   health related hotlines there will be no need of procuring a new system. 

The Afya Call Centre operates 24 hours a day with two shifts of 40 operators each. The Ministry of Health will change the shifts to 8 hours after finalisation of the recruitment processes of all 120 operators.

Since establishing the new IT system the call centre substantially increased the capacities of the Ministry of Health to receive and respond to questions of the citizens on the COVID-19 health issues.The newly launched Call Centre is attending to between 75 to 82 percent of the incoming calls.












1) Except for 20.5.2020, data for other days are for 12 hours only.

The support in the establishment of the Call Center has enhanced  the ability of the government to use a sustainable communication channel with the population both for the COVID-19 public health crisis, but also for future other related topics, e.g. on general health, or gender based violence health related topics.