HealthBuddy: A new chatbot to engage with communities in Europe and Central Asia on COVID-19
New resource in countries’ digital toolkit
HealthBuddy, a multilingual interactive chatbot, is the newest tool to be launched as a resource for countries in Europe and Central Asia in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The chatbot, developed by WHO/Europe and UNICEF Europe and Central Asia Regional Office (ECARO), will help countries in the region to access accurate information, and counter misinformation surrounding the virus.
The chatbot is now available for national authorities and public health institutions for tailored use in countries, including in local languages. It uses artificial intelligence to answer questions about COVID-19, and provides local information such as COVID-19 hotlines available in European and central Asian countries.
New resource in countries’ digital toolkits
Public health authorities’ response to the pandemic is being challenged by an avalanche of misinformation on the Internet and social media. Not only will the chatbot provide accurate and targeted health advice for the public, it will also target information to the specific needs of health-care workers, faith-based organizations, employers, and the travel and tourism sectors in the countries.
“COVID-19 has unleashed an infodemic, making it challenging for people to navigate the overload of information and misinformation available. The WHO and UNICEF regional offices have joined forces to develop this innovative tool for countries that delivers accurate, timely and tailored messages about COVID-19, based on evidence we are gathering every day,” said Dr Hans Henri P. Kluge, WHO Regional Director for Europe.
Ms Afshan Khan, UNICEF Regional Director for Europe and Central Asia, said, “We built the HealthBuddy chatbot to protect children and families across the Europe and Central Asia Region. Together with WHO/Europe, we aim to make the chatbot a reliable source of information and advice related to COVID-19”.
Local collaborations for local response
HealthBuddy will be available for use on national health authorities’ websites with country-specific information. At present, the chatbot content is available in English, Greek, Italian, Kazakh, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish. WHO and UNICEF offices at the regional and country levels will support their partners in deploying the chatbot locally.
In addition to allowing users to ask questions about COVID-19 and receive the latest advice, HealthBuddy offers them the option to report fake news, myths and rumours from any country or community. The information received from the users will be monitored by WHO/Europe and UNICEF ECARO experts for setting the record straight through the chatbot and other communication channels.
For more information, please contact:
BP Panwar, T4D Business Analyst, UNICEF Europe and Central Asia Region, +41 79 453 5713, firstname.lastname@example.org
Kanti Kumar Bit, Web Manager, Country Support and Communications, WHO/Europe, +45 4533 6623, email@example.com