Into the looking glass: A collective self-assessment of health literacy (6)

11 April, 2022

Happily, improving health literacy and improving the quality of information providers can both be accomplished as they are not mutually exclusive. We need to do both.

I agree with Neil that kite-marking schemes like Health On the Net (HON) and others can help, but progress in this area has been painfully slow. When you consider that, as of Mar 21, 2022, there are currently over 1.93 billion websites online (, it is a fair guess that something of the order of 100 million websites have health information on them. As an estimate (I can't find exact figures), HON's valuable and diligent work has registered less than 20,000 sites: 1/250,000 of the possible total. They have a long way to go! WHO is certified, but (for example) CDC is not - and neither are HIFA or Phi. We found the registration process slow and not very transparent when submitting the Partnerships in Health Information website ( for HON certification. Perhaps a HON person on HIFA can come in on this.

There are also dissenting voices out there (I won't provide links, but you can find them easily enough) which suggest that quality control kite-marking schemes are all about protecting the status quo of the medical profession and pharmaceutical industry. I don't agree with that point of view, but we should recognize that it exists.

Regarding persuading social media giants to act against misinformation, this is surely up to governments to attempt. For the social media companies, the effort to do so is entirely against their business model. Misinformation causes a buzz and traffic, which provides more data for the social media giants to collect and sell. They also reject platform liability, saying it is up to the users to control what they post, and that policing content is not the responsibility of the platforms. It will be a battle to change that point of view, and will need strong international and government support.



Chris Zielinski

Blogs: and

Research publications:

HIFA profile: Chris Zielinski: As a Visiting Fellow in the Centre for Global Health, Chris leads the Partnerships in Health Information (Phi) programme at the University of Winchester. Formerly an NGO, Phi supports knowledge development and brokers healthcare information exchanges of all kinds. 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. Chris also spent three years in London as Chief Executive of the Authors Licensing and Collecting Society. He was the founder of the ExtraMED project (Third World biomedical journals on CD-ROM), and managed the Gates Foundation-supported Health Information Resource Centres project. He served on WHO’s Ethical Review Committee, and was an originator of the African Health Observatory. Chris has been a director of the World Association of Medical Editors, 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). UK-based, he is also building houses in Zambia. chris AT

His publications are at and and his blogs are and