Report: WHO supports global efforts to quench misinformation amid infodemic

Recent experience with the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the problem of misinformation and disinformation, leading to confusion and mistrust.

Globe and stethoscope on blue background, world health day concept

The World Health Organization (WHO) has called for a global crackdown on misinformation during public health crises. The 2023 Global Preparedness Monitoring Board (GPMB) report, initially established by WHO in 2018, highlights the importance of knowledge and verifiable facts in quickly combating health emergencies worldwide. WHO defines an infodemic as an excessive amount of information that makes it challenging to discern the truth.

To address the ‘global trust deficit’ across society, WHO aims to create a global mechanism to combat health-related misinformation and disinformation. It has initiated partnerships and collaborations to develop resources for fact-checking, infodemic analysis, and knowledge translation. The organisation is also working on a public health research agenda for managing the infodemic and providing training.

To this end, they have created the Early AI-supported Response with Social Listening (EARS) programme, which uses AI to offer up-to-the-minute insights into the online discussions surrounding COVID-19. This, in turn, assists health authorities in gaining a more profound comprehension of public opinion and responding effectively to concerns.

Why does it matter?

The challenge of having reliable health-related guidance is inherently linked to misinformation. This issue largely extends to social media platforms, which face difficulties in addressing the vast volume of content and nuanced misinformation. While some social media platforms have rolled back their misinformation policies (like Meta did earlier this year), WHO is championing universal access to credible health information and building resilience against misinformation.