Tracking Universal Health Coverage in the WHO African Region, 2022 (3)

9 August, 2022

Dear Richard,

In my opinion, Facebook should remain a platform to be used to help disseminate timely and accurate health information but should not be the decider of what is and what is not health information. Regardless of translations in 100 languages, before posting healthcare information, the languages must be vetted for accuracies and variations in dialects by respective healthcare administrators in every country. Therefore, Facebook can only be a conduit, an agency that helps sharing of properly vetted health information and must work with respective government officials and standard setting organizations such as WHO, regional Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Ministries of Health in every country. A new standard must also be established that guarantees accuracies. For example, health information must only come from reliable sources and must be cited.

Social media is not new to humans. Ever since humans discovered fire, they have been gathering to deliberate and work in groups. Even the Homo Sapiens left Africa in groups to settle in all corners of the world. We do not know if they had languages but they did communicate with each other, protected each other and survived. What we are witnessing now is an extension of the first trend with the usual periodic culminations due to advancement in technology. It is possible that society reacted in the same way as we are now when the Morse Code was  first introduced. While Facebook’s use of the word ‘like’ is understandable the use of the word ‘friends’ is complex as was addressed by Claudia. We will figure it out.

Neil mentioned air traffic controllers addressing the fact that we travel by air and by sea safely because we have standards. We all use color coded traffic signals (green, yellow and red) and we receive our mails in all corners of the world because of the established standards. Only WHO can declare arrival and eradication of diseases. Yes, ICAO and UPU are UN agencies. The Law of the Sea is a standard established by the UN. Not just Facebook but also Google, TikTok, YouTube and more are providing health information. While welcoming the services these organizations provide, health information must be standardized because there is only one human species.

Therefore, the time has come for the UN to also set a standard for cyber communications, which hopefully will start at the planned UN Data Conference in China, where you are preparing to present.  

Happy to receive critical reviews and discussion on why we need a new global standard for cyber communication.  

Best wishes,


HIFA profile: Enku Kebede-Francis (PHD, MS, MEd) is an advisor in global health governance. She has worked for the United Nations (UNESCO, UNDP, UNFPA and UNDPI); was an Assistant Professor at Tufts University Medical School/Department of Public Health; and, a Visiting Scientist at the USDA’s Center for Human Nutrition Research Center for Aging and a Visiting Fellow at the Australian National University Medical School. She also designed and implemented preventive health programs promoting women’s health and tobacco cessation programs in Croatia and worked on addiction prevention programs in Florida and Massachusetts, USA. Her professional interests include preventing scurvy and childhood blindness in developing countries using micronutrients. An advocate for primary healthcare for all as a right, she published a textbook in 2010, Global health Disparities: closing the gap through good governance.