Coronavirus (992) WHO press release: countries urged to take stronger action to stop spread of harmful information

24 September, 2020

A press release from WHO underlines the importance of trust and solidarity to address misinformation.

The UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay says: ”Collective mobilisation to promote quality and reliable information... is essential.” HIFA stands ready to contribute to collective mobilisation, and to build trust and solidarity, for a world where every person has access to the reliable healthcare inforamtion they need to protect their own health and the health of others, and where every person is protected from misinformation.

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23 September 2020 Joint News Release New York

The World Health Organization (WHO) together with the UN, specialised agencies and partners today called on countries to develop and implement action plans to promote the timely dissemination of science-based information and prevent the spread of false information while respecting freedom of expression...

“As soon as the virus spread across the globe, inaccurate and even dangerous messages proliferated wildly over social media, leaving people confused, misled and ill-advised”, said UN Secretary-General António Guterres. ”Our initiative, called “Verified”, is fighting misinformation with truth. We work with media partners, individuals, influencers and social media platforms to spread content that promotes science, offers solutions and inspires solidarity. This will be especially critical as we work to build public confidence in the safety and efficacy of future COVID-19 vaccines. We need a ‘people’s vaccine’ that is affordable and available to all.”

“Misinformation and disinformation put health and lives at risk, and undermine trust in science, in institutions and in health systems,” said WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. “To fight the pandemic we need trust and solidarity and when there is mistrust, there is much less solidarity. False information is hindering the response to the pandemic so we must join forces to fight it and to promote science-based public health advice. The same principles that apply to responding to COVID-19 apply to managing the infodemic. We need to prevent, detect and respond to it, together and in solidarity.”

“Misinformation is one of the fastest growing challenges facing children today,” said Henrietta Fore, UNICEF Executive Director. “It takes advantage of the cracks in trust in societies and institutions and deepens them further, undermines confidence in science and medicine, and divides communities. In its most pernicious forms, such as when it convinces parents not to vaccinate their children, it can even be fatal. Because misinformation is more a symptom than a sickness, countering it requires more than just providing truth. It also requires trust between leaders, communities and individuals.”

“We can beat COVID-19 only with facts, science and community solidarity,” said Executive Director, Winnie Byanyima. “Misinformation is perpetuating stigma and discrimination and must not come in the way of ensuring that human rights are protected and people at risk and those marginalized have access to health and social protection services.”...

”Collective mobilisation to promote quality and reliable information, while strictly ensuring respect for freedom of expression, is essential. A free, independent and pluralistic press is more necessary than ever.”...

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Read online: https://www.who.int/news-room/detail/23-09-2020-covid-19-pandemic-countr...

Best wishes, Neil

Let's build a future where people are no longer dying for lack of healthcare information - Join HIFA: www.hifa.org

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