HIFA Blog: Months in review, February - April 2020: Coronavirus and the cancer of misinformation

1 May, 2020

Dear HIFA Colleagues

I am delighted to share the latest instalment of the HIFA Blog:


The misuse of social media to share misinformation and fake news about COVID-19 has resulted in untold numbers of preventable deaths. This is one of the main themes to emerge from a wide-ranging global discussion, which has been running for four months on the HIFA forum. This month's HIFA blog draws upon the experiences shared by HIFA members to portray a crisis where even senior academics inadvertently share information about the virus which is both incorrect and potentially dangerous.

With thanks to the following HIFA members whose contributions appear in this month's blog: Stuti Chakrabortty, Intern, Christian Medical College, Vellore; Neil Pakenham-Walsh, HIFA coordinator; Amelia Plant, Portfolio & Impact Manager, Preston-Werner Ventures; Julie Reza, Specialist in communications for biosciences, global health & international development; Juliet Shenge, Clinical Virologist, Dominican University, Ibadan, Nigeria; Chris Zielinski, Leader, Partnerships in Health Information (Phi) programme, University of Winchester.

Metrics: In February, March and April 2020 HIFA (English) exchanged 842 messages from 241 contributors in 44 countries (Australia, Bangladesh, Belgium, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Canada, China, Croatia, DRCongo, Egypt, France, Germany, Honduras, India, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Jordan, Kenya, Lebanon, Malawi, Nepal, Netherlands, Nigeria, Niue, Norway, Pakistan, Philippines, Romania, Russia, Senegal, Singapore, South Africa, Spain, Sudan, Switzerland, Tanzania, Tunisia, Uganda, United Arab Emirates, UK, USA, Zambia, Zimbabwe). Our top contributors were Joseph Ana, Nigeria (58), Najeeb Al-Shorbaji, Jordan (31), and Chris Zielinski, UK (25), Tusharkanti Dey, India (19), Tatjana Kobb, China (11), and Shabina Hussain, USA (10). Thank you all for sharing your views and your experience.

As always, please share any suggestions, ideas or comments for the HIFA Blog on the HIFA forum. Alternatively, send me an email: martinmichaelcarroll(at)icloud(dot)com

Thanks very much and I hope you enjoy this month's instalment.

Martin Carroll

Independent Consultant



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HIFA profile: Martin Carroll was previously Head of the International Department at the British Medical Association, London UK, and has worked on issues affecting health in LMICs since 2003. He represented the BMA on the HIFA Steering Group from 2008-16 and is now an independent HIFA Steering Group member. Martin is a member of three HIFA working groups: Multilingualism, Evaluating the Impact of Healthcare Information, and Social Media. He is also the HIFA blogger. Twitter: @MMCarroll martinmichaelcarroll(at)icloud(dot)com