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UNICEF Launches COVID19 Information Hub

Econet subscribers will get free information on the global coronavirus pandemic following the launch by the Ministry of Health and Child Care and UNICEF have made the Official COVID-19 Information Hub.

In the new development communicated through a press statement, UNICEF said users can access detailed information on the virus through an automated chatbot that uses menu prompts interface.

The project is supported by Econet Wireless Zimbabwe, the largest telecommunications company in Zimbabwe, with an overall market share of over 61 percent of the total mobile sector.

UNICEF said the launch of the SMS platform was to integrate other mobile subscribers who are not using the social media platform of WhatsApp, which has successfully registered at least 80 000 user.

Econet subscribers will access the information on COVID19 by prompting the hotline number 2019, get daily updates, prevention and general information as well as key messages.

“With the support of Econet, access to the Information Hub is available by sending an SMS from any mobile phone. Simply text the word “Hi” to the number 2019.

“The automated messaging chatbot uses menu prompts to provide official and latest updates including Ministry of Health and Child Care (MoHCC) daily updates, prevention and general information as well approved key messages for the general public in Zimbabwe.

“The SMS access to the Information Hub is a follow on from the successful WhatsApp Information Hub which is available for people with phones that can access WhatsApp (see details in the graphic below).

“To date more than 80,000 users have registered on the WhatsApp Hub with more than 1.5 million messages exchanged,” read part of the statement.

UNICEF said it is aiming at bridging the information gap for the rural communities who may not have access to mobile devices which use social media applications but are using mobile phones.

According to the POTRAZ, the body mandated to issue licenses in the postal and telecommunications sector, Zimbabwe now has a mobile penetration of 97 percent.

“The purpose of SMS access to the Information Hub is to reach more people across Zimbabwe particularly in regional and rural populations who may not have smartphones or access to WhatsApp.

“We urge all media and partners to promote the SMS and WhatsApp Information Hubs through their media platforms and inform the people of Zimbabwe how to access this important information,” said UNICEF.

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