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Infodemics, vital tool in disease outbreaks management, says WHO Consultant Dr. Danjuma

Infodemics, vital tool in disease outbreaks management, says WHO Consultant Dr. Danjuma

By Frank Ajufo in Abuja

The World Health Organisation, WHO, says it is supporting Nigeria in partnership with other development partners to develop and strengthen a Nigeria Infodemic Management Team, NIMT to help tackle the adverse effects that infidemics may have on management of disease outbreaks in the present or the future.

Experts have reported that although infodemics is not a completely new phenomenon, there is the need to check the kind of information that is consumed by the public and debunk those that are untrue and have the capacity to negatively impact the management of disease outbreaks.

Speaking with Vision FM Abuja at a workshop for members of NIMT which took place in Abuja, the WHO Infodemic Management Consultant for Nigeria, Dr. Danjuma Abdulrahman, explained that the events of COVID-19 informed the need to strengthen the concept of infodemic management across countries, regions and the world over.

Dr. Danjuma said the WHO is giving Nigeria technical support among other forms of assistance to build a team that will employ innovative means in the management of infodemic.

“The Internet was really able to provide people with the opportunity to do so many things either positively or negatively impacting the society. In addressing the pandemic right, going beyond the different waves, you could see that people generate different types of information to cause the public to dissuade, to disregard or to distrust public health advice.

“The Team and other infodemiologists or infodemic managers, the world over are ensuring that they pick up these misinformation, simply the science, interpret them and ensure that it is amplified through channels as well as quantify to ensure that we measure the extent of the impact of what has been communicated.”

Also speaking, Head of Communications, Dr. Yahya Disu explained that measures are ongoing to identify strategic stakeholders to bring them onboard to build a strong team.

“At the end of this workshop, we expect to be able to get those stakeholders who are not yet on board but are doing one thing or the other on infodemics and then to make sure that they are on board because it requires community or society approach to be successful in this.

“By collaborating together, we are able to harness our resources and are able to work together to avoid conflicting information. And we have been able to also come up with modified tools for sub-national level infodemics management at the community level because right now that is still a major weakness.”

The Nigeria Infodemic Management Team, NIMT, currently comprises government, development partners, and the media while the organized private sector is currently being introduced to the team.