Last week Praekelt.org together with the Department of Health released COVID-19 Connect.

COVID-19 Connect is a WhatsApp chatbot helping South Africans find reliable information relating to the spread of the pandemic. Now, WhatsApp has built a similar chat bot for the World Health Organisation.

WHO Health Alert is a free service anybody in the world can make use of.

“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 service is initially launching in English but will be available in all six United Nations languages within the coming weeks,” explains WhatsApp.

The WHO Health Alert chatbot is very similar to COVID-19 Connect although it is on a global scale rather than just a snapshot of local data.

With that having been said, another source of reliable information available from within WhatsApp is a good thing and we highly recommend adding WHO Health Alert to your contacts.

To do that, simply add + 41 22 501 76 55 as a contact and say “Hi” in a new conversation on WhatsApp. Alternatively visit this link on a device where WhatsApp is installed and follow the instructions on screen.

“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. We are proud to have partners like Facebook and WhatsApp, that are supporting us in reaching billions of people with important health information,” said director general of the World Health Organisation, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.