Facebook today has announced that they are partnering with the Kenyan government to keep Kenyans informed about the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.
The company in collaboration with the Ministry of Health have plans to launch a WhatsApp chatbot which will be accessible from the phone number 0110 719 719. This chatbot will enable Kenyans to get answers to the most common questions about the coronavirus from the Ministry 24 hours a day.
The chatbot will also provide information like coronavirus prevention and symptoms, the latest number of cases in the country, advice on staying at home, travel advisory and myth-busting.
Facebook also says they have trained government officials on the best practices of using Facebook tools to educate Kenyans on the government’s efforts around the COVID-19 virus. They are also providing the Ministry of Health with free ad credits to enable them to run the coronavirus education campaigns on their platform.
“As a government, we are deploying both traditional and digital communications tools to disseminate trusted information about this virus. We welcome Facebook’s partnership in helping to reach and interact with a wider segment of the population, so we can share the facts and provide accurate advice,” Kenya Government Spokesperson, Cyrus Oguna said.
This service is strikingly similar to the WhatsApp automated chatbot that the World Health Organization (WHO) had made in collaboration with Facebook. The WHO WhatsApp chatbot gives information about the current outbreak of the coronavirus similar to what Facebook is doing with the one they have partnered with the Ministry of Health.
This is a pretty cool initiative and the choice for WhatsApp is apt. WhatsApp is unofficially the default social network for millions of Kenyans out there and disseminating such information is crucial for an outbreak like this.