The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), in partnership with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), has launched an SMS-based interactive chatbot to provide accurate information on Covid-19.

The health agency said in a statement that the chatbot will serve as a crucial medium to access validated, vetted and accurate information on issues concerning Covid-19 and Nigeria’s effort to control the pandemic.

Development Diaries understands that the viral spread of misinformation is a global problem that is empowered by information and communication technology (ICT) that enables near-instant and easily disguised messaging.

The chatbot, which was designed by U-Report, can be accessed for free through Short Message Service (SMS), Facebook Messenger, and WhatsApp.

‘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’, said NCDC Director-General, Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu.

‘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’.

For his part, UNICEF Nigeria Representative, Peter Hawkins, said it was crucial to continue to put measures in place to fight against misinformation in order to sustain the fight against the pandemic.

‘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’, he said.

‘The new chatbot is a useful tool that provides vetted and accurate information and response to the coronavirus pandemic’.

More than 65,000 cases of Covid-19 have been reported in Africa’s most populous nation.

Source: UNICEF

Photo: NCDC

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