Infodemic management training for health ministries and WHO offices of South-East Asia region

Accurate and timely information play a crucial role during public health emergencies such as COVID-19 pandemic and other disease outbreaks. During the COVID-19 pandemic, one of the challenges that health agencies in South-East Asia faced was the widespread of inaccurate and misleading information. Drawing lessons from past experience and to prepare for the future, participants from health ministries and World Health Organisation offices in the South-East Asia region underwent infodemic management training, during annual regional meeting of the WHO on community engagement and resilience held in Paro.

An infodemic is the rapid spread of information, including false or misleading information, about a particular topic, especially during a crisis like a health emergency.

Experts say false or misleading information can cause confusion among people, making it hard to believe the correct information.

The training was to improve the capacity to handle the data and relay accurate information through reliable medium.

So, this infodemic is all about community engagement, listening to community concerns and understanding their apprehensions, what are their belief systems and then, trying to provide them with the correct information in the way they want in their own vernacular language in the medium whether in the WhatsApp messages, print media or through BBS and websites and any other modes. Provide them timely and correct information in the way they want,” said Dr Bhupinder Kaur Aulakh, WHO Representative in Bhutan.

The meeting also saw discussions on starting a regional infodemic management network.

Following the training, consultation meetings will be held to develop action plan for community engagement.

“So, this meeting will be followed by consultation meeting on the strategic action plan for community engagement and community resilience in case of any disease outbreak or public health emergencies. So, all the participants from all the member states and also the WHO country offices, they will be part of consultation, discussion and debate on how we can strengthen community participation for any disease outbreak,” said Dr Bhupinder Kaur Aulakh.

WHO South-East Asia Regional Office with the WHO Bhutan office and the Ministry of Health organised the event. The three-day training saw 60 participants from the South East Asia Region.

Namgay Wangchuk, Paro

Edited by Tshering Zam 

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