WHO launches COVID-19 information platform on WhatsApp


The World Health Organisation has developed a free ‘health alert’ function on WhatsApp.

According to a statement, the service is intended to answer questions from the public about the COVID-19 virus. It will give “prompt, reliable and official information 24 hours a day, worldwide.”
Topics will include how users can protect themselves from infection, as well as travel advice myths about the virus. It will initially launch in English, but will be available in the other five United Nations languages (Arabic, Chinese, French, Russian and Spanish) in the coming weeks.
Speaking of the functionality, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of the World Health Organisation said: “Digital technology gives us an unprecedented opportunity for vital health information to go viral and spread faster than the pandemic. We are proud to have partners like Facebook and WhatsApp, that are supporting us in reaching billions of people with important health information.
“Since February, WhatsApp has reached out to dozens of governments to assist their efforts to provide accurate information to the general public. The WHO Health Alert is the latest official NGO or government helpline to become available on WhatsApp, joining the Singapore Government, the Israel Ministry of Health, the South Africa Department of Health, and KOMINFO Indonesia.”

WhatsApp has also announced a $1 million grant to the International Fact Checking Network to support fact-checking for the #CoronaVirusFacts Alliance.

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Philip Mason
Editor, Critical Communications Portfolio
Tel: +44 (0)20 3874 9216