COVID-19 USSD-code health literacy campaign

20 April 2020 | Story Supplied. Photo Pexels. Read time 1 min.
The information platform by UCT’s Global Surgery division is accessible to people without a smartphone or data.
The information platform by UCT’s Global Surgery division is accessible to people without a smartphone or data.

The University of Cape Town’s (UCT) Global Surgery division in the Faculty of Health Sciences has developed a platform of reliable and accessible information dissemination on the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak for communities without access to smart technology or data.

COVID-19 has affected more than a million people globally, and South Africa now has the highest number of people in Africa infected with the virus. South Africa is the most unequal country in the world with the widest gap between the rich and the poor.

There is a lot of information available electronically, but most of it can only be accessed if the reader has access to data. With a lot of false information being spread about COVID-19 and the urgent need to prevent the spread of the disease to less resourced communities, UCT’s Global Surgery division decided to create a more widely accessible electronic platform to educate the community on the disease.

In the first two days of launching this platform, we reached over 1 000 households,” said Salome Maswime, head of Global Surgery. “The simplicity, accuracy of the information and translations into different languages have been highly commended by users.”

The platform uses a USSD code and is accessible without data – even for users without a smartphone.

Dial *120*1341*100#.

Creative Commons License This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

Please view the republishing articles page for more information.

UCT’s response to COVID-19

COVID-19 is a global pandemic that caused President Cyril Ramaphosa to declare a national disaster in South Africa on 15 March 2020 and to implement a national lockdown from 26 March 2020.

UCT is taking the threat of infection in our university community extremely seriously, and this page will be updated regularly with the latest COVID-19 information. Please note that the information on this page is subject to change depending on current lockdown regulations.


Frequently asked questions


Commemorating a year of COVID-19

At midnight on 26 March 2020, South Africa went into the first nationwide hard lockdown. A year later, we remember those who have died and those who have been affected by COVID-19, as well as the pandemic’s effects across society and campus. We are especially grateful for the front-line health workers who have done so much for so many.

News and opinions

Campus communications



Media releases

Read more  

In an email to the UCT community, Vice-Chancellor Professor Mamokgethi Phakeng said:
“COVID-19, caused by the virus SARS-CoV-2, is a rapidly changing epidemic. [...] Information [...] will be updated as and when new information becomes available.”


We are continuing to monitor the situation and we will be updating the UCT community regularly – as and when there are further updates. If you are concerned or need more information, students can contact the Student Wellness Service on 021 650 5620 or 021 650 1271 (after hours), while staff can contact 021 650 5685.