The BBC has teamed up with Whatsapp – the most widely used instant messaging platform in West Africa – to share public health messages about Ebola with the intention of curbing the outbreak.

The drive is the BBC’s biggest public health campaign since the emergence of HIV and AIDS in the 1980s, and it will be accompanied by radio broadcasts, online and TV content, as well as Twitter updates in both French and English.

The educational messages, limited to three a day, serve to raise awareness of how Ebola is transmitted, what the symptoms are and how it can be prevented.

While the service is aimed at users at the epicentre of the outbreak in West Africa, it is free to use for anyone in the world. The campaign may be of particular interest to Caribbean citizens, as pressure mounts on regional Governments to maintain travel bans amidst a dearth of public education campaigns on the disease.

How to subscribe:
Getting on to the information service is as simple as texting ‘JOIN’ via WhatsApp to +44 7702 348 651 , after saving as a contact. To unsubscribe, send ‘STOP’ to the same number.

AMG has tested the service, which broke the news on Mali’s first Ebola case this morning, delivered safety information on Ebola’s warning signs, and distributed multimedia image and audio campaigns, like this UNICEF/Government of Liberia jingle.

Image credit: Reuters/Dado Ruvic

How the BBC and WhatsApp are spreading the Ebola message

Deborah Almond

Deborah Almond is AMG's Health Editor and an infectious disease specialist, with experience in sexual and reproductive health and malaria in pregnancy. She holds an MSc from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine and a BSc from University College London.

PUBLISHED — October 24, 2014

Category: HealthTechnology