The World Health Organization has struck a partnership with WhatsApp, a Facebook-owned messaging platform to bring COVID-19 facts to the billions of people on the app. WHO yesterday launched the messaging service to get information directly into the hands of the people that are grappling with coronavirus misinformation that’s spreading faster than the virus itself.
The easy-to-use WhatsApp messaging solution with a potential reach of up to 2 billion 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 governments, decision-makers and health professionals to protect their populations from the life-threatening pandemic.
The WHO Health Alert on WhatsApp can be accessed through a link that opens a chat on WhatsApp. Users can simply send “Hi” to +41 79 893 18 92 on WhatsApp to activate the conversation, prompting a menu of options that can help answer their questions about COVID-19.
The United Nations Development Programme, the World Health Organization and the United Nations Children’s Fund are working closely with WhatsApp to support the global fight against the coronavirus pandemic through the launch of WhatsApp Coronavirus Information Hub. The hub provides simple, actionable guidance for health workers, educators, community leaders, nonprofits, governments and local businesses that rely on WhatsApp to communicate. The site also offers general tips and resources for users around the world to reduce the spread of rumors and connect them with accurate health information.
“Getting up to date information about COVID-19 to local communities around the world is a critical piece of the international community’s efforts to stem the spread of the virus,” said Achim Steiner, the Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). “Partnerships with private sector companies like WhatsApp will help get this vital, real time information from the World Health Organization and local health officials to billions of users around the globe.”
Will Cathcart, the Whatsapp Inc Chief Executive Officer at Facebook said the company will continue to work directly with health ministries around the world to provide updates right within WhatsApp, detect and debunk misinformation about COVID-19 spread on the messaging app.
“We know that our users are reaching out on WhatsApp more than ever at this time of crisis, whether it’s to friends and loved ones, doctors to patients, or teachers to students. We want to provide a simple resource that can help connect people at this time,” said Cathcart.
At least 235,000 people have been infected by the coronavirus globally and close to 10,000 have been confirmed dead, according to the World Health Organization.