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Covid: Mitigate harm from disinformation: UN, WHO

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 Rohit Shishodia
To provide accurate and authentic information about the Covid-19 pandemic, the World Health Organization, United Nations and other partners have called upon countries to develop and implement action plans to manage the infodemic by promoting the timely dissemination of accurate information, based on science and evidence, to all communities, and in particular high-risk groups.

A joint statement issued by world agencies such as WHO, UN, UNICEF, UNDP, UNESCO, UNAIDS, ITU, UN Global Pulse, and IFRC reads that the states should prevent the spread of, and combat, mis- and disinformation while respecting freedom of expression.

“We urge member states to engage and listen to their communities as they develop their national action plans, and to empower communities to develop solutions and resilience against mis- and disinformation,” said the agencies.

“We further call on all other stakeholders - including  the media and social media platforms through which mis- and disinformation are disseminated, researchers and technologists who can design and build effective strategies and tools to respond to the infodemic, civil society leaders and influencers - to collaborate with the UN system, with Member States and with each other,” they added.

The WHO has pointed out that an infodemic is an overabundance of information, both online and offline. It includes deliberate attempts to disseminate wrong information to undermine the public health response and advance alternative agendas of groups or individuals.

The UN agency has further added that mis- and disinformation can be harmful to people’s physical and mental health. It increases stigmatization, threatens precious health gains and leads to poor observance of public health measures, thus reducing their effectiveness and endangering countries’ ability to stop the pandemic.


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