The Ministry of Information has launched a free-to-use Coronavirus Information Service on WhatsApp, which will provide a central source of accurate, verified and current information on the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
Aiming to keep Ghanaians constantly informed, and importantly provide tips on staying safe and preventing its spread, the 24/7 automated ‘chatbot’ service will provide answers to the most common questions on COVID-19, whilst issuing public health advisories directly from the Ministry of Information.
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 Ministry of Information to send urgent and real-time messages to all Ghanaians who opt into the service, with subscribers also being able to engage directly to share or get more information. For more advanced queries, the chatbot will direct the user to online resources and has the ability to transfer to live agents for information outside the FAQ scope.
All WhatsApp users can access the free information service by simply adding the number: +233 55 531 1311 to their phone contacts. To get started, users can text any keyword 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, Minister For Information and Member of Parliament for Ofoase Ayirebi Hon. Kojo Oppong Nkrumah said: “ the platform will provide real-time information on measures deployed by Government to fight covid-19 and will function as the National Information contact”.
Adding her comments, Facebook’s Head of Public Policy for Anglophone West Africa, Adaora Ikenze said: “At difficult times like these, people use WhatsApp more than ever to connect with and support their friends, family and communities. We’re pleased to be able to provide the Ministry of Information with a vital communication tool to help them respond to citizens’ questions about the disease with reliable and timely health advice, which will ultimately help in keeping people safe.”
A number of Health Ministries around the world are already running Coronavirus health information lines on WhatsApp, including the World Health Organization with its WHO Health Alert, Singapore Government, Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) and the South Africa Department of Health – with more services expected to launch in the coming days and weeks.