The 811 telephone service by HealthLink BC will be available in several languages, such as Chinese and Punjabi. ((CBC))

British Columbians can now obtain non-emergency health information via the telephone by dialing 811 or by going to the HealthLink BC website.

The 811 service is operated by trained health-service representatives, who can help callers identify symptoms and advise them on when and where to seek medical treatment in or close to the callers' communities.

"As part of the enhanced phone and web services, each health authority has designated individuals responsible for ensuring that HealthLink BC has the most up-to-date information on health resources for each region of the province," Health Minister George Abbott said Friday.

"For example, our enhanced services will make it much simpler for a pregnant mother to determine the closest prenatal program to her home, or for a senior living in a rural community to locate an influenza immunization clinic."

As an expansion of the province’s tele-health services such as BC NurseLine and Dial-A-Dietitian, the 811 service will be available in several languages, including Chinese and Punjabi.

People who have hearing problems can access the telephone service from a TTY service or device by dialing 711.

The HealthLink BC website has information on more than 4,000 health topics, including over-the-counter and prescription drugs, and how to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

"Not only will these services provide health information and advice to British Columbians and support them in finding appropriate health resources close to home, but these services will also assist health professionals in ensuring that their patients receive the very best care," said Dr. Shamin Jetha, president of the BC College of Family Physicians.