COVID-19: NCDC, UNICEF Join Hands to Provide Accurate Information on Coronavirus For Citizens
The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) with support from UNICEF, through the UReport platform, has launched an SMS-based interactive chat bot to provide Nigerians with timely and accurate information on the Coronavirus pandemic, Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu, Director General of NCDC, has said.
“One of NCDC’s key responsibilities as Nigeria’s National Public Health Institute is to provide Nigerians with timely and accurate information to reduce their risk of infection.
“Our communications approach has leveraged social media, mainstream media and all other avenues to encourage Nigerians to take responsibility for protecting themselves and loved ones and prevent the spread of COVID-19,” he told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Wednesday in Abuja.
He said the cornerstone of NCDC’s public health messaging on the COVID-19 pandemic had been providing Nigerians with information through its website dedicated to the COVID-19 pandemic as well as an ongoing communications campaign with the theme #TakeResponsibility.
The NCDC DG said that the new COVID-19 chat bot would serve as an additional medium to access validated, vetted and accurate information about COVID-19 and government’s efforts to control the pandemic.
He described the chat bot as a welcome initiative that will be integrated into existing strategic communication efforts at the NCDC, assuring that the agency will leverage opportunities to use technological solutions to enhance the delivery of its mandate.
‘’We are grateful to UNICEF and partners for supporting our efforts to provide Nigerians with prompt and reliable information on the COVID-19 pandemic. Technology has been critical for strengthening our public health response to COVID-19’’, Ihekweazu said.
He added that the NCDC, under the guidance of the Federal Ministry of Health (FMOH), remained strongly committed to protecting the health of Nigerians and urged the public to remain aware of the risks of COVID-19 and to adhere to the preventive measures advised by the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 and the FMOH.
Also speaking, Mr Peter Hawkins, UNICEF Nigeria Representative, also noted that COVID-19 was not to be taken lightly and needed to be discussed factually and accurately.
“We need to guard against misinformation to help save lives. The new chat bot is a useful tool that provides vetted and accurate information and response to the coronavirus pandemic’’, he said.
NAN reports that UReport is an innovative mobile social monitoring platform for community participation to address issues that matter to young people. It is designed to give young people a chance to voice their opinions on issues in their communities, encourage citizen-led development and create positive change.
The chat bot can be accessed for free across all networks via SMS by sending the word “coronavirus” to the short code 24453. Also, Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp users can send the word “Coronavirus” to +2349087401607 as well as via the UReport platform on Facebook via @ureportnigeria respectively. (NAN)