Updated: March 23, 2020 8:59:11 pm
Facebook joined hands with government health organisations across the world to help combat the COVID-19 pandemic. In a press release, the social media giant announced that its developer partners will provide free services to health organisations and UN health agencies to use Messenger — Facebook’s messaging service — to expand their crisis response.
Facebook’s initiative aims to connect government health agencies with developers who can help them use Messenger in order to share timely and accurate information about the coronavirus. Facebook VP of Messenger Stan Chudnovsky said that as a part of the program, developers will also show health organisations how to share updates with audiences and transition from automated conversations to live agents when the situation calls for it.
“Communities around the world are dealing with quarantines and other disruptions to daily life because of the coronavirus outbreak,” Chudnovsky said. “As is common in any crisis, people are using digital channels like Messenger to stay connected and get information from trusted health authorities that are on the front lines fighting this global pandemic.”
Organisations around the world including the UNICEF, Pakistan’s Ministry of National Health Services, Regulations & Coordination (NHRC), and Argentina’s Ministry of Health and Ministry of Innovation are using the Messenger to provide the latest information about COVID-19, answer questions from the public about the coronavirus, or provide official advice 24×7.
The Indian government also teamed up with Facebook’s WhatsApp to launch COVID-19 informational chatbots called MyGov Corona Help Desk. The UK’s National Health Service is also in talks with WhatsApp to set up a dedicated chatbot to provide information related to coronavirus.
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Apart from Facebook’s Messenger and WhatsApp, other organisations are also deploying chatbots to keep people informed about the COVID-19 developments. The US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) built a COVID-19 assessment bot atop Microsoft’s Healthcare Bot service that can assess symptoms, provide information, and suggest next courses of action to the users.
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