The World Health Organization (WHO) and partners have launched a new initiative and alliance to guide action on misleading information about the COVID-19 pandemic in the African continent.
This disclosure was made by Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa, at the launch of Africa Infodemic Response Alliance (AIRA), which is expected to boost efforts at eradicating rampant disinformation that hobbled the fight against the pandemic in the continent.
— WHO African Region (@WHOAFRO) December 3, 2020
What they are saying
According to WHO, “Information about the pandemic has been shared and viewed over 270 billion times across the digital platforms in the continent, while a large portion of it has been found to be inaccurate and misleading.”
According to Dr. Moeti, “In health emergencies, misinformation can kill and ensure diseases continue to spread. The new alliance will leverage on resources and expertise from multilateral institutions and Pan-African bodies to combat misinformation about COVID-19, its spread and treatment options.”
She also said the advanced economies in Africa that have the highest internet penetration have been identified as COVID-19 disinformation hotspots and “we are going to partner with affected countries to put in place interventions that are required to root out disinformation about the virus, more so as we prepare for the roll-out of the vaccine.”
What you should know
- The new alliance is onboarding 13 global regional organizations and fact-checking entities with expertise in data, behavioural science, epidemiology, research, digital health and communication, that can be harnessed to detect, disrupt, and counter misleading reports about the virus in the continent.
- This initiative will largely promote robust sharing of scientifically accurate coronavirus information in the continent among policymakers, researchers, and public health specialists in order to inform timely responses at the grassroots.
- The continent has not been spared as regards loads of misinformation on the COVID-19 pandemic related incidents, largely amplified by several unregulated social media platforms that spread unverified and misleading reports, revolving around unproven treatments, cases, false cures, and anti-vaccine propaganda.