Even as India has gone under lockdown for 21 days, the World Health Organisation has taken up the onus to help spread factual information and guidance for the public. The global organisation has collaborated with Praekelt.Org, using machine learning technology to develop WHO Health Alert.
This has been launched in partnership with WhatsApp and Facebook. WHO said that this messaging service has the potential to reach 2 Bn people and enables WHO to get information directly into the hands of the people that need it.
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 users can reach out to the number and type “Hi” to start a conversation, prompting a menu of options that can help answer their questions about coronavirus.
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.)
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.”
Last week, WhatsApp, in partnership with the World Health Organization, UNICEF, and UNDP, launched the WhatsApp Coronavirus Information Hub, to provide simple, actionable guidance for health workers, educators, community leaders, nonprofits, local governments and local businesses that rely on WhatsApp to communicate.
Further, in India, IT ministry and the ministry of health and family welfare (MoHFW) have started a special helpline, MyGov Corona Helpdesk, on WhatsApp to answer people’s queries. To raise any query, anyone can simply drop a WhatsApp message to 9013151515. The chatbot will then send an automated response, listing the most commonly asked questions. The users will just have to choose the question they want to get the answers to.
Besides this, the government has also roped in global tech giant Google and is in talks with Facebook as well to ensure that there is no misinformation being spread through such platforms. Google has already customised India’s search page with the ‘Do The Five. Help stop coronavirus’ campaign.
Social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, TikTok, and YouTube have also started regulating content and ads on their platforms to put an end to any misinformation being spread on their platform. All global social media platforms have been in touch with WHO to push out accurate information.