The World Health Organisation (WHO) and International Telecommunication Union (ITU), with support from the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), announced plans to tap telecom companies to contact billions with vital information on the Covid-19 (coronavirus) disease.

In a joint statement, the UN agencies said SMSes will initially be sent in the Asia Pacific region and then rolled out globally, with the goal of informing every person of “vital health messages, whatever their connectivity level”.

“An estimated 3.6 billion people remain offline, with most people who are unconnected living in low-income countries, where an average of just two out of every ten people are online”, the WHO and ITU stated.

More telecom companies were urged to to join their initiative “to help unleash the power of communication technology to save lives from Covid-19”.

Both agencies noted Covid-19 is the first pandemic in human history where technology and social media are used on a massive scale to keep people safe, productive and connected while being kept physically apart.

In the statement, the agencies highlighted how health workers are using telemedicine to diagnose patients and hospitals rely on being connected to coordinate with them.

“Resilient and trustworthy telecommunication networks and services are essential, as more countries, companies and individuals turn to digital technologies to respond to and cope with the impact of Covid-19”, the agencies said.