By Peter Kenny
GENEVA (AA) – The World Health Organization has said it is working on a global curriculum for “infodemic” management to counter false or misleading information as seen during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The WHO defines an infodemic as “too much information, including false or misleading information in digital and physical environments during a disease outbreak.”
This causes confusion, can lead to harmful behaviors, mistrust in health authorities, and undermines public health responses.
A WHO statement on Tuesday said a technical consultation meeting was held on March 21-23 in Serbia’s capital Belgrade, which brought together 47 representatives of academia, public health and professional associations, and health authorities from six WHO regions.
The participants “recognized the importance of infodemic management early on during the pandemic, and we have grown a network which allowed us to improve our response and reduce the harms of the infodemic,” said Stefan Mandic-Rajcevic, coordinator of the laboratory for infodemiology and infodemic management at Belgrade University.
The WHO said the aim includes defining the capacities for mainstreaming infodemic management in learning and training programs, and mapping integration approaches in existing learning programs.
“An infodemic can intensify or lengthen outbreaks when people are unsure about what they need to do to protect their health and the health of people around them,” according to the WHO.
Since the COVID-19 pandemic, top UN chief officials have repeatedly drawn attention to the challenge of the infodemic.