Cochrane is pleased to join other organisations and individuals in signing a World Health Organization (WHO) call for action about managing infodemics.
WHO defines an infodemic as “overabundance of information – some accurate and some not – that occurs during an epidemic. It can lead to confusion and ultimately mistrust in governments and public health response”. This has been a particular challenge during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The WHO call for action encourages signatories to take the following steps:
- Recognize that an infodemic is a tsunami of information—some accurate, some not—that spreads alongside an epidemic and note that it cannot be eliminated but it can be managed.
- Acknowledge that infodemic management can reduce the direct and indirect negative impacts on the health of populations, as well as growing mistrust towards governments, science, and health personnel which has fueled the polarization of societies.
- Emphasize that everyone has a role to play in addressing the infodemic.
- Support a whole-of-society approach and engage with communities in the production, verification, and dissemination of information that leads to healthy behaviors during epidemics and pandemics.
- Commit to finding solutions and tools, consistent with the freedom of expression, to manage the infodemic embedding the use of digital technologies and data science.
- Strive to make science more accessible, transparent, and understandable, maintain trusted sources of information and promote evidence-informed policies thereby fostering people’s trust in them.
- Learn from the COVID-19 infodemic management practices and share experience on value-added partnerships.
Cochrane is committed to supporting evidence-informed decision making through the production of high-quality, relevant, and up-to-date research syntheses. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Cochrane community has been actively trying to meet information needs.