The World Health Organization (WHO) on Saturday announced that it has partnered with WhatsApp to provide people with accurate health information related to the coronavirus pandemic by answering their COVID-19 related questions directly on the messaging platform.
It has set up a WHO Health Alert on the Facebook-owned messaging platform. The free service is designed to answer questions from the public about coronavirus and will be active 24 hours a day. Government decision-makers can also provide the latest numbers and situation reports through the service.
“The WHO Health Alert will provide official information on topics such as how to protect yourself from infection, travel advice, and debunking Coronavirus myths. The service is initially launching in English but will be available in all six United Nations languages within the coming weeks (English, Arabic, Chinese, French, Russian and Spanish.),” WHO said in an official release.
Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of WHO said: “Digital technology gives us an unprecedented opportunity for vital health information to go viral and spread faster than the pandemic, helping us save lives and protect the vulnerable. We are proud to have partners like Facebook and WhatsApp, that are supporting us in reaching billions of people with important health information.”
The WHO Health Alert service can be accessed via the number +41 79 893 1892. Users can save the number in their phone and simply drop a text that says ‘Hi’ in a WhatsApp message to get started. The service responds to a series of prompts and will be updated daily with the latest information.
Earlier this week, WhatsApp had launched the WhatsApp Coronavirus Information Hub at whatsapp.com/coronavirus in association with WHO, UN and UNDP to provide guidance for health workers, educators, community leaders, nonprofits, local governments and local businesses that rely on WhatsApp to communicate. Users can utilize the WhatsApp Coronavirus Information Hub to access the WHO Health Alert service. They will simply need to click on the WHO link on the homepage to open up a chat with the WHO Health Alert if they have WhatsApp installed.
WhatsApp had also announced a $1 million grant to the International Fact-Checking Network to support fact-checking for the #CoronaVirusFacts Alliance, to report on rumours that may be circulating on various messaging services including WhatsApp or SMS earlier this week.
Furthermore, in India, the Indian government’s Press Information Bureau (PIB) has also joined WhatsApp on Friday in a bid to curb misinformation surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic.
Do forward any whatsapp “news” about #COVID2019 which you suspect is #fakenews to our whatsapp hotline number +918799711259 for busting,” PIB had tweeted.
PIB can be contacted at +918799711259 on WhatsApp or can be reached via email at [email protected]