WHO-trained infodemic managers, more than 1300 of them from 142 countries, are already making great strides in Member States and together around the world as a global community of practice.
All epidemics and pandemics come with an infodemic, which requires new skills applied to public health to understand and deal with the overwhelming amount of information, including misinformation and disinformation. As the COVID-19 pandemic has evolved, the tools, resources and expertise made available by the WHO have also evolved to train more managers of infodemics globally. To date, the community has held three global infodemic manager trainings, several country-level trainings, and one comprehensive training to support COVID-19 vaccination uptake.
Many resources are available, which include over 100 hours of lessons, unique simulation exercises, and practical tools to help infodemic managers track infodemics in their country. Since their training, graduates have helped each other by sharing information, resources and interpreting infodemic signals.
These training courses have had a positive impact on the career paths of many interns. Hazel Wallace, a trainee from Australia, who joined the Australian Primary Health Care Network as the COVID-19 Vaccine Demand and Communication Officer immediately after the training, said: “I consider the management of the infodemic as a long-term commitment and career direction. The interns have become fact checkers with Health Analytics Asia and Infodemic Managers with WHO and work in UNICEF country offices and within Doctors Without Borders (MSF). Some have even successfully advocated for the creation of infodemic management positions within their own institutions.
The main benefit I have gained from training in Infodemic Management is a ready-made network of international collaborators with whom I can work on current and future projects, including academic papers, research offers and submissions at conferences.
Ministries of health also now have WHO-trained infodemic managers in national emergency response task forces, within primary health care systems and in national public health departments. or provincial. Earlier this year, Sonia Boender, a trained field epidemiologist, was appointed to the risk communication unit of the national institute for public health at the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) in Germany, as responsible infodemic. She is currently focused on building processes for social listening and integrated analysis of information for public health, in collaboration with technical support from the WHO Infodemic Management Team and partners. . In Serbia, the Laboratory of Infodemiology and Infodemic Management was established at the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Belgrade. With the support of the World Health Organization country office in Serbia, two infodemic managers working at the Institute of Social Medicine have assembled a multidisciplinary team that will conduct research and support the management of the infodemic in country and region.
Graduates have taken training resources and adapted them to country needs. In Italy, trainees have made exciting progress towards cascading infodemic management skills with new courses approved by the Ministry of Health (MOH) to be rolled out for journalists, doctors, community leaders and officials and with a first national event to come. Nigeria is currently setting up a national Infodemic management training at the state level to address the local challenges of the Infodemic.
To advance the field of infodemic management together, interns conduct research projects, publish academic papers, and develop courses, lectures, conference presentations, panel discussions, and webinars. Interns around the world are introducing a new curriculum on managing the infodemic at their academic institutions. Portugal and Brazil have consolidated an international collaboration with the Rede de Infodemiologica Lusofona to share knowledge, and Serbia and the United States have joined in a formal cooperation between the University of Belgrade and New York University through through the Fulbright Specialist program. Several other trainees also said they had created doctoral positions focused on managing the infodemic in their countries. The trainees also trained new generations of infodemic managers, serving as mentors and coaches in subsequent training programs.
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