COVID-19 information for next billion digital users via their mobile phones

Cindy F. Cape

WHO is working with Viamo, a global social enterprise improving lives via mobile, to provide WHO’s COVID-19 information, including vaccines, to the hardest to reach populations, in their languages, through the mobile phones they own. This includes people with simple phones (feature phones) or with limited access to the internet.

Mobile technology is revolutionizing how organizations engage with their end-users. More than 96% of the world’s population has access to a mobile phone, meaning it is now possible to reach nearly every single person on the planet. Yet 3 billion people living in emerging markets still lack access to relevant, timely, and engaging information in their local languages, and their voices remain underheard. The organizations that serve them lack the technology, capacity or finances to reach them, and many are unaware of the power of mobile technology to meet their organizational goals.

Since the onset of COVID-19, Viamo’s 3-2-1 Service has become a trusted, toll-free source of life-saving COVID-19 health information for people in 19 countries. Listeners dial in and access important messages that help them make better-informed decisions to live healthier lives.

To date, the WHO COVID-19 information has reached 1,292,209 people through Viamo’s 3-2-1 Platform in 38 languages and across 13 countries on topics such as how COVID-19 spreads, how COVID-19 vaccines work, how they are developed and tested, COVID-19 safety, how long protection from COVID-19 vaccines and antibodies last, coping with COVID-19 (e.g., mental health and COVID-19, tips to promote well-being) and more.

“We’re proud to partner with the World Health Organization to make key COVID-19 public service information available, on-demand and free of charge, to millions of people via the voice channel on our platform,” said David McAfee, Chief Executive Officer, Viamo. “Our colleagues at WHO have the required expertise to combat this pandemic. Our contribution is to help optimize WHO’s key public health messaging for the mobile phone channel. We then make this information available to millions of people thanks to our collaboration with the mobile phone companies in each country where we work. We look forward to contributing further to this fight in 2022.”

“The world can only overcome the COVID-19 pandemic if every person has access to accurate, reliable information to make informed decisions. Tech partnerships such as WHO’s collaboration with Viamo are helping further this pursuit by reaching the next billion digital users in local languages in the palm of their hands and democratizing health information more broadly,” said Andy Pattison, Team Lead for Digital Channels at WHO.

This collaboration is part of WHO’s broader initiative to work with technology companies to fight misinformation and ensure people everywhere have access to accurate health information and resources on COVID-19.

In countries where the 3-2-1 Service is available, people may access WHO’s COVID-19 information via any mobile device.

 

Additional links:

WHO and Viamo provide critical access to COVID-19 information to the next billion digital users via their mobile phones

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