The BBC World Service has launched the ‘Lifeline’ service on WhatsApp messenger to inform West Africans in Ebola danger zones how to stay safe.
The communications, which will be available in both French and English, will share public health messages using audio, text and images. Furthermore, the World Service will share breaking news alerts related to Ebola through WhatsApp, the most popular communications app in Africa.
Lifeline will hosted on the number 44,7702,348651 where those affected can subscribe to alerts by texting Join or Joindre.
BBC World Service listeners in West Africa, of which there are 13.1 million, will receive two Ebola update broadcasts twice daily, supplemented by increased partnerships with other media outlets and a daily 10-minute Ebola bulletin on BBC World News TV.
Peter Horrocks, director of the BBC World Service Group, said: “This outbreak of Ebola shows no signs of abating. 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.”
Horrocks added: “We’re committed to playing our part and will continue looking at new ways to reach audiences, for example by developing programmes in local vernacular languages.”
Last month, the BBC announced that it will be making its online content accessible through instant messenger service Line's 400 million worldwide users.