covid-19 Technology

WhatsApp and WHO launch texting facility against Coronavirus fake information

The new messaging tool, called WHO Health Alert, has the potential to reach 2 billion people

The World Health Organisation has created a messaging tool called WHO Health Alert on the Facebook-owned platform, with answers to your common queries and concerns. The service was announced on the World Health Organisation website on March 20.

On the morning of March 21, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyseus, Director-General of WHO, and Jesper Doub, Director of Media Partnerships Europe, Middle East and Africa at Facebook, shared the news, while the official Twitter account for WhatsApp stated, “It’s an honour to work with @WHO to provide this simple service to get the latest information directly from the experts right on WhatsApp.”

A screenshot of a user interacting with WHO Health Alert tool on WhatsApp

According to WHO in a statement, “From government leaders to health workers and family and friends, this messaging service 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 government decision-makers protect the health of their populations.”

How does it work?

The “information service”, as WHO calls it, is interactive and provides everything from the latest news updates to personal hygiene tips and travel advice. While these are pre-formed advisories, you can also clarify personal doubts of your own. All you have to do is say ‘hi’ to +41 79 893 1892 over WhatsApp. You will then receive a reply from the WHO that includes a variety of menu items for the latest information, like novel Coronavirus infection rates around the world, travel advisories, and misinformation that should be debunked.

The interactive ‘hotline’ works quite simply: Text 1 for the latest statistics, 4 for mythbusters, 6 for news and press, or the respective emoji for each topic. The WHO can also send out proactive alerts as needed to everyone who has signed up.

The WHO Health Alert was developed in collaboration with South Africa-based mobile tech company Praekelt.Org, using Turn machine learning technology. This easy-to-use messaging service has the potential to reach 2 billion people and enables WHO to get information directly into the hands of the people that need it.

Visit to access the feature.

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Printable version | Apr 5, 2020 3:57:22 AM |

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