WHO Digital Health: Reaching digital populations everywhere with trusted information

27 August, 2021

Dear HIFA colleagues,

'WHO's quintessential function is to ensure access to authoritative and strategic information on matters that affect peoples' health.' HIFA's central purpose is to ensure the availability and use of information for health, and we look forward to continue working with WHO and others to accelerate progress towards universal access to reliable healthcare information and protection from misinformation.

Particularly during COVID and the current 'infodemic', WHO has stepped up its operations in digital health. Many of WHO's activities have been previously highlighted and discussed on HIFA, and I would like to reintroduce them here.

Reaching digital populations everywhere with trusted information


'With over 50% of the world’s population now using the internet, there is immense opportunity to deliver life-saving health messages into the hands of the world’s most vulnerable people.'

'1. Pro Bono Marketing: WHO’s essential guidance and public health recommendations have been able to reach new global audiences thanks to pro-bono public service announcement (PSA) and advertising space across television, search engines and social media channels. To date, Ads linking people to critical health information on Google, YouTube and Facebook alone have reached billions of people around the world.

2. Matching Google Search with Reliable Information: WHO is also working with search engines like Google to ensure that people who actively seek COVID-19 related content online are met with accurate information, often tailored by location and language. Most recently, in March 2021, WHO and Google launched an organized search results panel on COVID-19 vaccines with the most up-to-date information about safety, effectiveness, side-effects and more.

3. Reaching billions through Facebook’s COVID-19 Information Center: Facebook has also directed billions of people globally to resources from the WHO and other health authorities through their COVID-19 Information Center and informative pop-ups on Facebook and Instagram, with hundreds of millions clicking through to learn more from trusted sources.

4. Expanding Access to information with Wikimedia Foundation: Wikimedia Foundation, the nonprofit that administers Wikipedia, also teamed up with WHO to expand the public’s access and share WHO infographics, videos, and other public health assets on Wikimedia Commons, a digital library of free images and other multimedia. With these new freely-licensed resources, Wikipedia’s more than 250,000 volunteer editors can also build on and expand the site’s COVID-19 coverage, which currently offers more than 5,200 coronavirus-related articles in 175 languages.'

'In the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, the technology industry has played an unprecedented role in building solidarity and supporting the WHO to keep people safe and informed about the virus. At the onset of the outbreak, WHO convened more than 30 technology companies from around the world to enable collaboration instead of competition, all while promoting science, solutions and solidarity within the industry. The first convening took place in Silicon Valley in February 2020. Since then, convenings have taken place virtually on a monthly basis through the Tech Task Force and numerous collaborations driving a range of digital solutions to the pandemic have been established...' https://www.who.int/teams/digital-health-and-innovation/digital-channels...


Neil Pakenham-Walsh, HIFA Coordinator, neil@hifa.org www.hifa.org