The World Health Organization (WHO) has launched WHO Health Alert, a WhatsApp-based service that will help to provide vital information about COVID-19 into the hands of millions of individuals across the globe.
Launched on Friday 20 March 2020, WHO Health Alert provides updated and accurate information on the pandemic including how to protect yourself, questions and answers, myths, travel advice, and the latest news and press coverage.
The service has launched in English and will roll out in official United Nations languages as soon as they become available. The WHO Health Alert is accessed through a link that opens a conversation on WhatsApp. The conversation is activated when the user types “hi”, and gains access to a menu of information.
The WHO Health Alert was developed by South Africa’s Praekelt.Org, using Turn machine learning technology which was developed to help social impact organisations to have personal guided conversations that improve lives at scale. The service is capable of handling engagement at scale as South Africa’s COVID-19 Connect WhatsApp rollout is demonstrating.
“The Turn technology has been in development for the past two years and it’s because of this that we’ve been able to respond so quickly in a time of crisis”
“The Turn technology has been in development for the past two years and it’s because of this that we’ve been able to respond so quickly in a time of crisis” says Debbie Rogers, Praekelt.org Managing Director. “An amazing collaborative effort between WHO, WhatsApp, and the teams at Praekelt.org and Turn has resulted in getting WHO Health Alert off the ground and critical information to people across the globe,” adds Gustav Praekelt, Praekelt.org founder and co-founder of Turn.io.
“An amazing collaborative effort between WHO, WhatsApp, and the teams at Praekelt.org and Turn has resulted in getting WHO Health Alert off the ground and critical information to people across the globe,”
WHO Health Alert supports people with health questions, and helps direct them to accurate information sources when needed. This is done through an automated information response that provides answers to the most frequently asked questions and relieves traffic to call centre helplines. Turn’s ability to use machine learning understanding that enables automatic prioritising to take place means that WHO’s Health Alert is able to manage conversations at scale. Additionally, the WHO Health Alert provides real-time data insights to support effective decision-making around COVID-19.
Praekelt.org and Turn.io are making the Turn technology available free to ministries of health in other countries. Turn’s multi-language capability will contribute to COVID-19 information being accessible on WhatsApp-based services in many more countries. Countries or organisations wanting to implement a WhatsApp helpline in their region should email email@example.com