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Egypt: Using Twitter for a Healthier Life

Can Twitter be used to save people's lives or improve their health? During the clashes that took place in Tahrir Square in Egypt last month, a Twitter account (@TahrirSupplies) was created to arrange the delivery of medical supplies to the field hospitals set up by volunteers in and around the square, as well as food and other items needed there. Healthy Egypt Tips, on the other hand, was a different initiative by a group of volunteers who started a Twitter account (@HealthyEgypt) in August in order to spread health awareness tips in Egypt.

Here is one of their tips:

@HealthyEgypt: A few miniature servings of coffee at intervals works better than one large mug to keep you alert and focused.

They also reply to people's questions, help peer initiatives, and spread sex education as well where culture makes it embarrassing to ask sexual questions.

Who are you and tell us more about your initiative.

We are a group of volunteers, it started as my wife Iman Ismail and myself Kareem Mossad, then we added a doctor friend who is Dr. Ahmed Ibrahim

It's written in your bio that you are sharing 100% credible and verified information. So we have to ask you: Are you doctors? How do you normally get your medical information, confirm it, and answer people's questions?

My wife and I are health activists and enthusiasts. We are not doctors yet we've been in community service for quite a while. We have one code of conduct as that for any medical information we provide to our followers, is that we need to double check it, by checking more than once source for credible well known health websites, or verify with “Ahmed Ibrahim” who is the third person (doctor) helping in this initiative.

Is the account sponsored by any commercial entity or an NGO's? I've noticed for example that you sometimes refer to brand names. Are you affiliated with them somehow?

We're not officially sponsored by any commercial or NGO yet. However, we've received a couple of proposals, but we weren't ready for that step yet.

How long have you been raising awareness online? Do you have plans to have presence outside Twitter, such as Facebook, blogs, etc?

We started in August, around mid-Ramadan, and the followers response was pretty impressive, we bought “www.healthyegypt.org and www.healthyegypt.net“, and we're currently in the programming phase for our website so we can launch soon.

Also we noticed that you almost only tweet in English? Aren't you planning to tweet in Arabic? Don't you think English will limit your audience inside Egypt somehow?

You're absolutely right, we do tweet in Arabic sometimes but not regularly, and it’s definitely on our plans with the website which will be in both languages so we can attract more visitors to it.

We are also getting positive feedback via Twitter from people who are expressing how much such information is helping them and raising awareness about untouched issues.

This is one way Twitter is being used to spread health awareness in society. If you know of any other health-related projects online, please let us know.

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