Coronavirus (1056) Policymakers and health misinformation (34)

29 October, 2020

News report from Science. Opening lines below and a comment from me. Full text here: https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2020/10/another-piece-populist-propagand...

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On 19 October, the Brazilian government organized a high-profile ceremony to announce what it billed as a new breakthrough in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic: the antiparasitic drug nitazoxanide. President Jair Bolsonaro was present, as were several other Cabinet members. “We are announcing something that will begin to change the history of the pandemic,” science minister Marcos Pontes said.

Only one thing was missing from the presentation: the evidence. And when it emerged 4 days later, scientists were decidedly underwhelmed.

Bolsonaro has been a tireless advocate of hydroxychloroquine to treat COVID-19, even after large clinical trials showed it didn’t work. Now, his government is promoting nitazoxanide...

The only “data” available, shown in a slick video, was a generic animated bar chart, plucked from Shutterstock, with an arrow pointing downward and the text “NITAZOXANIDE IS EFFECTIVE!”...

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Comment (NPW): Too many heads of state and other policymakers are failing in their obligation under international human rights law to ensure the public are fully informed with the information they need to protect their health and the health of others [https://hifa.org/about-hifa/hifa-universal-health-coverage-and-human-rig.... It is no longer acceptable that the public are instead told what politicians want them to believe. There is an urgent need to hold politicians accountable for health misinformation.

Best wishes, Neil

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HIFA profile: Neil Pakenham-Walsh is coordinator of the HIFA global health campaign (Healthcare Information For All - www.hifa.org ), a global community with more than 19,000 members in 177 countries, interacting on six global forums in four languages in collaboration with WHO. Twitter: @hifa_org FB: facebook.com/HIFAdotORG neil@hifa.org