“The new chatbot is a useful tool that provides vetted and accurate information and response to the coronavirus pandemic.” – Peter Hawkins, UNICEF Nigeria Rep.

The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), with support from UNICEF through the UReport platform, has launched an SMS based interactive chatbot to provide Nigerians with timely and accurate information on COVID-19. 

Currently, over 64,000 cases of COVID-19 have been recorded in Nigeria, with
over 50,000,000 confirmed globally. One of our 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.

This has been done through a website dedicated to the COVID-19 pandemic as well as an ongoing communications campaign
with the theme #TakeResponsibility. These have formed the cornerstone of public health messaging on the COVID-19 pandemic in Nigeria. 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 preventing the spread of COVID-19. This new COVID-19 chat bot will serve as an additional medium to access validated, vetted and accurate information about COVID-19 and government’s efforts to
control the pandemic.

According to the Director General of NCDC, Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu, “At NCDC, we always
leverage opportunities to use technological solutions to enhance the delivery of our
mandate. Technology has been critical for strengthening our public health response to
COVID-19. This interactive chatbot is a welcome initiative that will be integrated into existing technology deployed for communication at the NCDC. We are grateful to UNICEF and partners for supporting our efforts to provide Nigerians with prompt and reliable information on the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Peter Hawkins, UNICEF Nigeria Representative also noted “COVID-19 is not to be taken lightly and needs to be discussed factually and accurately. We need to guard against misinformation to help save lives. The new chatbot is a useful tool that provides vetted and accurate information and response to the coronavirus pandemic.”

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 a positive change.

The chat bot can be accessed for free across all networks via SMS by sending the word “coronavirus” to the shortcode 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

The NCDC, under the guidance of the Federal Ministry of Health, remains strongly
committed to protect the health of Nigerians. We urge 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 Federal Ministry of Health.

By Dotun Roy

DotunRoy.com is a development driven news website with the overall goal of amplifying, promoting and advocating for positive societal change through Sustainable Development advocacy in line with UN SDGs components such as education, environmental sustainability and Climate Change, Human Rights, health, finance, housing, good governance as well as security in Nigeria and across the world.

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