WhatsApp, WHO partner to provide factual updates about Coronavirus outbreak

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has partnered with WhatsApp and Facebook to launch a messaging service to keep people safe from coronavirus and ensure that they access factual information and updates about the outbreak.

The easy-to-use messaging service has the potential to reach 2 billion people and enables WHO to get information directly into the hands of the people that need it.

From government leaders to health workers and family and friends, this messaging service will provide the latest news and information on coronavirus including details on symptoms and how people can protect themselves and others. It also provides the latest situation reports and numbers in real time to help government decision-makers protect the health of their populations.

The service can be accessed through a link that opens a conversation on WhatsApp. To use the service, one has to an simply type “hi” to activate the conversation, prompting a menu of options that can help answer their questions about COVID-19.

The WHO Health Alert was developed in collaboration with Praekelt, using Turn machine learning technology.

As part of its further efforts to help contain the spread of Covid-19, WhatsApp has donated $1 million to a fact-checking initiative, the Poynter Institute’s International Fact-Checking Network (IFCN).

The WhatsApp Coronavirus Information Hub will provide “simple, actionable guidance for health workers, educators, community leaders, non-profits, local governments and local businesses that rely on WhatsApp to communicate”. The information centre will also offer tips and resources to help limit the spread of rumours related to Covid-19.

The $1 million grant is to support an alliance related to checking information about Covid-19, covering more than 100 local organisations in at least 45 countries. The donation will also include training for fact-checkers to use features within WhatsApp Business.

According to MobileWorldLive, WhatsApp head Will Cathcart said the move would “help grow the amount of fact-checking organisations” on the messaging app and “support their life saving work to debunk rumours”.

Cathcart added that the social messaging firm would continue working with health ministries worldwide to provide updates within the messaging service.

WHO declared Covid-19 as a pandemic on March 11, 2020.


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