Importance of COVID-19 misinformation on social networks (5) Information and knowledge in global development frameworks

31 January, 2024

[Re: ]

Thanks to Bernard Seytre for his comments on the impact of misinformation on COVID-19 vaccination. I look forward to his paper on the subject in the American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene.

Taking this discussion more broadly, one wonders where information and knowledge appear in the global development frameworks. One can trace a history of these from then-WHO DG Halfdan Mahler’s “Health for All by the Year 2000” via UN SG Kofi Annan’s Millennium Development Goals (noting that Kofi Annan had been a former WHO staff member) to the SDGs. Since the value of these frameworks lies more in the fact that they provide a framework rather than the rate of achievement of their goals and individual targets, it is important to start working well before the 2030 finish line for the SDGs on the next development framework – and particularly on the things left out so far. These include a separate treatment of knowledge and information in development.

It is not enough to treat knowledge and information as “cross-cutting” in development. We are seeing what misinformation/disinformation/malinformation is doing to the edifice of development evidence. Information disorders are killing people at an increasing rate, as happened in the COVID-19 pandemic. Even when they are not fatal, they slow the pace of evidence-based human development. We need to be able to monitor and evaluate the health of knowledge as a specific goal in the next development framework – with goals, targets and indicators.



Chris Zielinski

Centre for Global Health, University of Winchester, UK  and

President-elect, World Association of Medical Editors (WAME)

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HIFA profile: Chris Zielinski: As a Visiting Fellow and Lecturer at the Centre for Global Health, University of Winchester, Chris leads the Partnerships in Health Information (Phi) programme, which supports knowledge development and brokers healthcare information exchanges of all kinds. He is the elected Vice President (and President-in-Waiting) of the World Association of Medical Editors. Chris has held senior positions in publishing and knowledge management with WHO in Brazzaville, Geneva, Cairo and New Delhi, with FAO in Rome, ILO in Geneva, and UNIDO in Vienna. He served on WHO's Ethical Review Committee, and was an originator of the African Health Observatory. He also spent three years in London as Chief Executive of the Authors Licensing and Collecting Society. Chris has been a director of the UK Copyright Licensing Agency, Educational Recording Agency, and International Association of Audiovisual Writers and Directors. He has served on the boards of several NGOs and ethics groupings (information and computer ethics and bioethics). chris AT His publications are at and and his blogs are and