Today, the Federal Ministry of Health Somalia has launched the Coronavirus Information Service on WhatsApp. The new service, which is free-to-use, provides a central source of accurate, trustworthy and up-to-date information about Coronavirus (COVID-19), with the goal of keeping Somali people safe and constantly informed about the virus.
The Coronavirus Information Service is an automated ‘chatbot’ service which will allow Somali people to get answers to the most common questions about Coronavirus from the Federal Ministry of Health- Somalia 24 hours a day.
Enabling two-way conversations on WhatsApp, the Coronavirus Information Service has been built on the WhatsApp Business API, using Infobip’s global communication platform to enable the sharing of timely and vital information about the virus. The service will enable the Federal Ministry Of Health Somalia to send urgent and real-time messages to all Somali people who opt into the service, with subscribers also being able to engage directly to share or get more information.
All WhatsApp users can access the free information service by simply adding the number: +252 613600700 to their phone contacts. To get started, users can text any key word for example, “Hi” to the number through WhatsApp chat which prompts a list of options. The service can also be initiated by clicking the link.
Speaking on the collaboration with WhatsApp and Infobip, Minister of Health, H.E. Dr. Fawziya Abikar Nur said: “WhatsApp is one of the most common social media platforms in Somalia, therefore, we thank WhatsApp and Infobip for their contribution to our efforts of risk communication and community engagement to fight Coronavirus in Somalia”.
Matt Idema, WhatsApp’s Chief Operating Officer, commented: “At difficult times like these, people use WhatsApp more than ever to connect with and support their friends, family and communities. We are pleased to be able to provide the Federal Ministry of Health Somalia with the communications tools to help them respond to citizens’ questions about the virus with reliable, timely health advice, in order to keep people safe.”