"We're not just fighting an epidemic; we're fighting an infodemic. Fake news spreads faster and more easily than this virus, and is just as dangerous." Dr Tedros, Director-General WHO.

Every single health decision and action, whether by parents, individuals, health workers or policymakers, is fundamentally dependent on our ability to access and apply reliable healthcare information - and to recognise and reject misinformation. The coronavirus pandemic has shown only too clearly the need for timely access to reliable health information, against a dangerous backdrop of misinformation and fake news.

The HIFA COVID-19 Project promotes communication, understanding, advocacy and action across the HIFA global health forums (>20,000 members in 4 languages, in collaboration with WHO).


The HIFA COVID-19 Project is supporting the longest ever discussion on the HIFA-English forum: more than 1,400 substantive messages have been exchanged among providers and users of healthcare information. We are grateful to students at the Universities of Edinburgh and Toronto, who are undertaking this work with academic supervision from their faculty. For updates on this and other work, join HIFA.

With generous support from the Global Health Academy at the University of Edinburgh, we have convened a working group of experts and volunteers to take this work forward. Our work is global, and includes a focus on Africa. For further information, contact Neil Pakenham-Walsh.




New paper: Qualitative Analysis of the COVID-19 Discussion on HIFA

Read online:

This paper in JMIR Infodemiology is based on the longest-ever discussion thread in HIFA's history: 865 posts between January 24 and October 31, 2020, from 246 HIFA members worldwide. (The thread continues to this day and now stands at more than 1,400 messages)

Below are the citation and abstract, and the full paper is freely available here

CITATION: Gangireddy R, Chakraborty S, Pakenham-Walsh N, Nagarajan B, Krishan P, McGuire R, Vaghela G, Sriharan A. Themes Surrounding COVID-19 and Its Infodemic: Qualitative Analysis of the COVID-19 Discussion on the Multidisciplinary Healthcare Information for All Health Forum
JMIR Infodemiology 2022;2(1):e30167 

Background: Healthcare Information for All (HIFA) is a multidisciplinary global campaign consisting of more than 20,000 members worldwide committed to improving the availability and use of health care information in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). During the COVID-19 pandemic, online HIFA forums saw a tremendous amount of discussion regarding the lack of information about COVID-19, the spread of misinformation, and the pandemic’s impact on different communities.

Objective: This study aims to analyze the themes and perspectives shared in the COVID-19 discussion on English HIFA forums.

Methods: Over a period of 8 months, a qualitative thematic content analysis of the COVID-19 discussion on English HIFA forums was conducted. In total, 865 posts between January 24 and October 31, 2020, from 246 unique study participants were included and analyzed.

Results: In total, 6 major themes were identified: infodemic, health system, digital health literacy, economic consequences, marginalized peoples, and mental health. The geographical distribution of study participants involved in the discussion spanned across 46 different countries in every continent except Antarctica. Study participants’ professions included public health workers, health care providers, and researchers, among others. Study participants’ affiliation included nongovernment organizations (NGOs), commercial organizations, academic institutions, the United Nations (UN), the World Health Organization (WHO), and others.

Conclusions: The themes that emerged from this analysis highlight personal recounts, reflections, suggestions, and evidence around addressing COVID-19 related misinformation and might also help to understand the timeline of information evolution, focus, and needs surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic.

As stated in the paper, 'We would like to acknowledge the contributions of all members of the Healthcare Information for All (HIFA) forums for actively engaging in taking the discussion forward as well as for sharing their perspectives, ongoing work, solutions, and resources related to the global efforts in dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic.' Thank you also to the Global Health Academy at the University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, Scotland, for their ongoing support of HIFA COVID-19 discussions, and to the University of Toronto for generously covering the author processing charge.


Name Country
Abi Sriharan Canada
Isabelle Wachsmuth-Huguet Switzerland
Liz Grant United Kingdom
Malcolm Brewster United Kingdom
Margaret Sullivan United States
Muhammad Ferdaus Bangladesh
Neil Pakenham-Walsh United Kingdom
Prerna Krishan United Kingdom
Rakshith Gangireddy Canada
Richard McGuire United Kingdom
Salman Bin Naeem Pakistan
Stuti Chakraborty India