BBC launches Ebola information service in Africa using Whatsapp

The BBC World Service has launched an app-based "lifeline" Ebola information service for people in West Africa.

The service is designed for those using the instant messenger app Whatsapp. The new service is in both English and French and will comprise public health information on Ebola from the BBC, using audio, text message posts and images.

It will also include breaking news alerts related to Ebola. Whatsapp is said to be the most popular chat app in Africa.

Ebola is now the BBC World Service's biggest health focus since its reporting on HIV/Aids in the 1980s and 1990s, with a variety of TV and radio programmes broadcast to the Ebola-affected region

Peter Horrocks, director of the BBC World Service Group, said: "Myths and misinformation about Ebola are still widespread and life-threatening. The BBC is trusted by millions of people in the affected countries, so we are stepping up our efforts to reach people with timely information, whether they're listening to the radio, watching TV or using chat apps."

This is the first time the BBC has used a chat app specifically for health information programming, although instant messaging applications including Line, Mixit, BBM, WeChat and Whatsapp have been previously used for breaking news alerts and while reporting on elections in India and South Africa.

This story, "BBC launches Ebola information service in Africa using Whatsapp" was originally published by Computerworld UK.

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