Managing infodemic during the COVID-19 pandemic
The term infodemic was framed in 2003 about the plenty of information accompanying the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) outbreak. The word infodemic is a blend of information and epidemic. Infodemic poses a serious problem for public health.
“We’re not just fighting an epidemic; we’re fighting an infodemic”, said World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus at the Munich Security Conference on Feb 15, 2020.
What is infodemic?
WHO defines infodemic as “an overabundance of information—some accurate and some not—that makes it hard for people to find trustworthy sources and reliable guidance when they need it”.
Infodemic refers to a massive increase in information regarding specific incident/topic in a short time such as the current COVID-19 pandemic; makes it difficult to identify a solution and hampers an effective public health response. In such circumstances, misinformation and rumours also circulate among the people. This phenomenon is amplified through social networks, spreading farther and faster and creates new challenges to make sure that proper information reaches to people and they are informed to act appropriately.
Infodemic can affect people’s health in several ways such as:
Infodemic makes it difficult for people to identify accurate, evidence-based public health information and advice.
It can contribute to anxiety, depression and aggravate other mental health problems.
It can lead people to take misleading or even dangerous advice.
It can build fatigue, disinterest and hostility towards public health messages.
It can encourage discrimination, hate, stigma and exclusion.
To respond the infodemic effectively, it needs:
Communication as a public health intervention: Communication is an important public health intervention that contributes to controlling pandemic. The timely and accurate technical guidance, scientific briefs and situation reports, regular press conferences, trainings and educational videos, myth busters, active engagement on social media platforms and tailored guidance for other sectors are crucial to fighting misinformation and saving lives.
Change communication-During COVID-19 pandemic scientific understanding is growing day by day about virus, disease and management, this means recommendations may change as more evidence comes to light. This change should be communicated to the public.
Building trust: Governments, organizations and authorities need to act transparently and consensually to build trust with the public. This can be achieved with regular, open engagement as well as dynamic partnerships, holding regular press briefings with journalists. The more people trust health authorities, the more they comply with health protection guidance and adopt protective behaviours. Delayed and unclear communication and inconsistency can pose a threat to trust.
Multidisciplinary cooperation is essential for the effective response to an infodemic.
An infodemic cannot be eliminated, but it can be managed. The science behind managing infodemics is called infodemiology.
How can people help in the fight against the COVID-19 infodemic?
It is advised that people should get information from trusted sources, such as WHO, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India and State health authorities.
People can mitigate the negative impacts of an infodemic while observing the following measures:
Look for facts and evidence.
Choose carefully, share, like or forward content from trusted sources only.
Be cautious, not share false information.
Participate responsibly in social conversations.
Spend less time online.
Do exercise; listen to music, read books.
Let’s turn the infodemic into the positive information experience.
Watch- How to protect yourselves from infodemic
- PUBLISHED DATE : Aug 17, 2020
- PUBLISHED BY : NHP Admin
- CREATED / VALIDATED BY : Dr. Aruna Rastogi
- LAST UPDATED BY : Aug 17, 2020
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