South Africa’s National Department of Health (NDoH) has launched COVID-19 Connect – a WhatsApp-based helpline to deliver accurate, up-to-date information to South African citizens.
The service has already engaged with more than 1.5 million users and has served over 15 million messages.
COVID-19 Connect was created in a week by Praekelt.Org, using Turn.io technology that delivers automated responses providing answers to the most frequently asked questions about COVID-19 and the coronavirus.
COVID-19 Connect, endorsed by the National Department of Health and the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD), is said to be playing an important role in supporting the NDoH’s national response.
The service is enabling the South African government to have direct communication with the public, empowering individuals with the right information and alleviating pressure on the national call centre.
Debbie Rogers, MD of Praekelt.org, said: “The NDoH has previously pioneered the use of WhatsApp to take its MomConnect maternal health programme to scale. Our ongoing relationship with the NDoH and our experience on this, and other large scale health initiatives worldwide, has enabled us to rapidly implement COVID-19 Connect.”
COVID-19 Connect uses Turn.io’s machine learning technology to provide automatic prioritisation enabling conversations at scale.
South Africans can join the conversation by texting ‘Hi’ to +27 600 123 456 on WhatsApp.