/ 25 January 2011

WHO uses Mxit and JamiiX in disaster management

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has turned to South Africa-based mobile instant messaging and social networks MXit and JamiiX to prepare communities in southeast Asia for disaster management.

With more than 500 000 deaths caused by natural disasters in southeast Asia over the past decade, the WHO’s South-East Asia Regional Office (SEARO) has teamed up with MXit and JamiiX to provide emergency preparedness information, including what to do in the case of natural disasters such as floods, tsunamis, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and cyclones, as well as how to prepare emergency kits and how to plan for evacuations.

Information on safe hospitals in disaster zones, along with ways to support the WHO’s drive for safe health facilities, is also provided.

The WHO said that using such mobile and social media platforms was novel for the group.

“We are leveraging new communication technology in order to ease the availability, accessibility, and effectiveness of health information and services,” said Dr Roderico Ofrin, the regional adviser for the 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 said.

Herman Heunis, the CEO and founder of Mxit, said: “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 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.”

MXit is a web-based instant messaging service. JamiiX is a web-based tool allowing one to manage multiple conversations from different social networks and instant messaging platforms. — I-Net Bridge