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Ministry of Health trains media, health professionals on infodemic management

The Federal Ministry of Health in collaboration with WHO – Africa Infodemic Response Alliance (AIRA) has trained Nigerian media and health professionals on content development in Infodemic Management.

According to World Health Organisation, infodemic is too much information, including false or misleading information, in digital and physical environments during a disease outbreak.

The training which was funded by Gates Foundation was aimed at building the capacity of stakeholders in content development for infodemic management in Nigeria, using the Co-Design approach, human-centered design, design thinking and other innovative approaches.

The workshop which took place at Valencia hotel in Abuja commenced on Wednesday and came to end on Thursday.

During the training, participants were partitioned into groups and they were mentored on how to map audience segments, defining and designing of personas, content focus groups and content ideation sprint.

At the end of the workshop, each group was able to come up with content proposals on infodemic management for various forms of audience.

Speaking with The ICIR at the event, Mrs Deborah Jokodola, acting head, health promotion division explained that the essence of the training is to build the capacity of the participants on how to come out with contents that would be suitable for their diverse audiences.

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“Without content, there’s no information,” she said.

“There’s already misinformation, there’s disinformation but contents allow people to understand exactly what infodemic is all about, the sources of their information, how credible it is. Where they can get it. So that they will not be misled, they will not get misinformation and then go out of health instead of them to have good health.

“We have different audiences. Your audience you have to speak to them. It’s your content that will make them understand where to seek information.

“There are different sources of information, different channels where people can get information. They should get information from credible sources. The one that they have believed before and it has worked for them they should follow that. But the one they have received false information and it landed them in ill-health, they should desist from there.”

She urged the participants to deploy the knowledge and skill acquired in the training to produce contents on health misinformation and pass the knowledge around to their audience.

On his part, the technical officer, infodemic management, World Health Organisation in Nigeria, Dr Abdulrahman Danjuma said the workshop is part of the support by World Health Organisation for the Nigerian Government on Health issues.

“Part of the process is to ensure that infodemic management system is established at the national and subnational level and in doing so, we identified some key stakeholders in Nigeria which is identified, simplified and quantified and one of those approaches of developing, communicating and channeling contents is to ensure that you develop contents that are specific to the targeted audience.” 

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He restated that the workshop was to train stakeholders in Nigeria on how to  co-design contents for infodemic management which will also entail human centred designs, design thinking and other forms of innovative approaches in content development.

“Infodemic management is a process. We need to gather risks and evidence to mitigate health risk which leads to favourable  behavioural changes.”

Danjuma noted that every disease outbreak comes with narratives which affect people and make them lose trust in government intervention, science and health.

“The plan is to ensure that when you are trying to communicate to them, you should know the kinds of contents that would be appreciable to them. The content that they would like and would be informative to them. There are different kinds of contents for different kinds of audience.”

Danjuma added that the infodemic misleads people into making inappropriate decisions that affect their health stressing the need for proper infodemic management to keep people informed.

He expressed his appreciation to the Federal Ministry of Health, Nigerian Centre for Disease Control and other stakeholders that supported the project.

He assured that the organisation is working towards strengthening its structure at national and subnational levels in order to address the menace of infodemic at all levels.

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One of the participants, Hassan Zaggi, a health reporter with Authority Newspaper and President, Association of Nigerian Health Journalists, described the training as a timely one adding that it would enable the stakeholders to address health misinformation. 

“I learnt that content is very key when it comes to infodemic management. I have learnt strategy to produce my contents and also to map out audience where my content is going to be shared. That would help me a lot in doing my job as a journalist.” 

He advised Nigerians to always verify information before sharing it.

Nurudeen Akewushola is an investigative reporter and fact-checker with The ICIR. He believes courageous in-depth investigative reporting is the key to social justice, accountability and good governance in the society. You can shoot him a scoop via nyahaya@icirnigeria.org and @NurudeenAkewus1 on Twitter.

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