The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) with support from the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has activated a shortcode – “6232” for verified information.
Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu, the Director-General of NCDC, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Wednesday in Abuja, that the shortcode was a toll-free and easy-to-remember number.
“This is to ensure that Nigerians have access to verified information on infectious diseases.
“In 2016, NCDC established its Connect Centre as a critical aspect of its event-based surveillance and risk communications strategy.
“Over the years, this has been used for the response to infectious disease outbreaks such as Lassa fever, monkeypox, yellow fever, cerebrospinal meningitis, among others.
“Following the confirmation of Nigeria’s first COVID-19 case in February 2020, NCDC immediately expanded its Connect Centre capacity to meet the increasing need for information by Nigerians.
“This was done in close collaboration with relevant government institutions and with support from our partners,” he explained.
Ihekweazu said that the call lines were expanded to receive multiple calls simultaneously, automated chatbots were activated to disseminate information in real-time, additional human resource and volunteers were engaged, and a new quality assurance system was introduced.
According to him, between March and December 2020, the NCDC Connect Centre received over 580,000 COVID-19-related phone calls.
He explained that “the shortcode number ‘6232’ will be used alongside the existing toll-free number – ‘0800 9700 0010’, with a gradual phase-out of the existing toll-free number.”
“Additionally, we recognise and thank mobile network providers in Nigeria – Globacom, MTN, Airtel, 9mobile – who continued to support our efforts in communicating with Nigerians,” he noted.
Ihekweazu said that the centre remained strongly committed to working with relevant government institutions and partners to protect the health of Nigerians.
He, however, urged Nigerians to use the shortcode responsibly in accessing verified information on COVID-19 and other infectious diseases.
He said it was very important that Nigerians continue to adhere to public health and safety measures, including regular hand washing, physical distancing and proper use of face mask.