World Health Organisation using MXit, JamiiX in disaster zones

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The World Health Organisation’s (WHO) South-East Asia Regional Office (SEARO) has teamed up with popular mobile social network MXit and JamiiX to bring emergency preparedness information to chat users in disaster-prone Indonesia.

This new approach is part of WHO’s wider effort to strengthen disaster preparedness in the region and build public awareness of the urgent need for safe hospitals in disaster zones.

Indonesians using MXit chat will be able to access personal preparedness information, including what to do in the case of natural disasters like floods, tsunamis, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and cyclones; how to prepare an emergency kit and how to plan for possible evacuation. This information is teamed up with facts on safe hospitals in disaster zones and ways to, as an individual, support WHOs drive for safe health facilities.

Over the last decade, more than half a million people in South East Asia have died in devastating floods, cyclones, earthquakes and tsunamis. The day after launching the campaign on MXit – the country experienced three consecutive earthquakes. People living in the region can support the campaign by adding their voice and signing up on MXit to assist WHO to reach its 1-million supporter target. People are also urged to support the campaign through a Facebook reaction tester.

This mobile and social media outreach is novel for WHO. “We are leveraging new communication technology in order to ease the availability, accessibility, and effectiveness of health information and services,” says Dr Roderico Ofrin, regional adviser for WHO’s emergency and humanitarian action. “Through this campaign we will continue to explore innovative means of bringing critical information in times of emergencies,” he says.

Herman Heunis, CEO and founder of MXit says: “The WHO campaign illustrates the value and power of social networking in assisting communities, especially those in disaster prone areas. As climate change and severe weather variations take a hold of many locations around the world, it makes sense to develop ways for communities and countries to receive life-saving information and assistance in a reliable and affordable way. We commend WHO for initiating this important project.”

“Being able to access life saving information at your fingertips is an empowering initiative by WHO and we are excited to be part of this campaign, which displays the power of social media,” says Marlon Parker, CEO of JamiiX and founder of RLabs.

The campaign, launched on 13 October, has been supported by among others actor Jet Li and social media service SlideShare.

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