The news: Pakistan’s Ministry of Health has launched a Covid-19 helpline on WhatsApp.
The helpline offers updates regarding the coronavirus outbreak as well as information about prevention and symptoms of the virus. It also offers a list of labs for testing in major cities across the country.
Whatsapp helpline for COVID-19 available in 7 languages
Please send “Hi” to +92-300-111-1166
— Ministry of National Health Services, Pakistan (@nhsrcofficial) March 30, 2020
Trustworthy: The helpline provides citizens with accurate and trustworthy information, directly from the Health Ministry and aims to clarify any misconceptions about the virus. The helpline, which became active this Monday, is similar to a chatbot and can be accessed 24 hours a day. Its service is available in seven languages including English, Urdu, Punjabi, Pashto, Sindhi, Balochi, and Kashmiri.
Access to helpline: To access the helpline, users can save this contact number: +92-300-1111166 in their phones and send “Hi” or any other text to this number on WhatsApp. The chatbot responds with a welcome message and asks the user to choose a preferred language. Then, the chatbot sends a numbered menu to the user, who can respond with the number of the question they want to ask. The responses can include videos or text. The chatbot was created using WhatsApp’s Business API feature with the collaboration of the Digital Pakistan Inititive team and Infobip’s global communication platform.
Messenger chatbot: Earlier in March, the Ministry of National Health launched a chatbot on messenger that offered similar services through its Facebook page. However, it was only available in English and Urdu languages. Tania Aidrus, the focal person of the Digital Pakistan initiative said the service would ensure that only authentic information is provided to the general public. “Our team wanted to build an effective way to get information out to Pakistanis. We’ve launched a chatbot to address common concerns on #Coronavirus,” she posted on Twitter.
Coronavirus Information Centre: Facebook also launched a Coronavirus Information Centre for Pakistan, which appears on the top of users’ newsfeeds, and allows them to “follow” the latest updates. This feature also has links to major sources like websites and Facebook pages of the Ministry of Health, National Institute of Health (NIH), World Health Organization (WHO), etc. Users can also see the latest news and updates from these pages.