Thank you, Neil and Fiona, for this timely editorial as the world is fighting to combat COVID-19.
As stated in editorial over half the world’s population can now access the internet, and mobile phones are becoming ubiquitous. But this increased internet connectivity comes with both pros and cons. The challenge of this new media outreach during disease outbreak seems hazardous as well.
Most common misinformation during this COVID outbreak in Nepal and similar low and middle-income countries that I have observed are:
1. The fallacious claim that the virus was created in a laboratory.
2. Overdramatized claims and efforts to sell medicine publicized as a cure for coronavirus.
3. Few junk food industry has started to print a false message to enhance the sell of their products.
4. Eating garlic can prevent COVID-19,
5. Bathing with alcohol or cow urine prevents COVID-19,
6. Rinsing the nose with salt water can prevent infection and so on.....
Combating such kinds of myths and misinformation is a growing challenge in the low and middle-income countries.
To debunk this vulnerability of misinformation,
1. Open access to scientific evidence in low and middle-income countries,
2. Enhancing the plain language summary of scientific reports/publications so that community beyond the science can comprehend the information correctly.
3. Collaboration with journalists and media personnel for responsible and evidenced reporting
4. Responsible actions from social media giants like Youtube, Facebook and Twitter is required.
The importance of platform like HIFA gets more profound at the moment where healthcare professionals and general people can have a place to be updated and have a reality check of their knowledge and information when they are going through infodemic.
Let us act together for health for all.
Tara Ballav Adhikari
HIFA profile: Tara Ballav Adhikari is MSc. Public Health Candidate at the University of Southern Denmark is a young public health professional from Nepal. With his interest in evidence-informed policy and health for all advocacy making, he has worked with NGOs, INGOs, and academic institutions in his professional career. Mr. Adhikari is a member of the HIFA Steering Group, HIFA Country Representative Coordinator, and Facebook Coordinator for HIFA (www.facebook.com/hifadotorg). He was awarded the HIFA Country Representative of the Year award for 2012. Email:adhikaritaraballav AT gmail.com