The WHO-trained infodemic managers, over 1300 of them from 142 countries, are already making great strides in Member States and together around the globe as a global community of practice.
All epidemics and pandemics are accompanied by an infodemic, which require new skillsets applied to public health to understand and address the overwhelming amount of information, including mis- and disinformation. As the COVID-19 pandemic has evolved, so have the tools, resources and expertise made available from WHO to build more infodemic managers globally. To date, the community has conducted three global infodemic manager trainings, several country-level trainings, and a comprehensive training to support COVID-19 vaccination uptake.
Many resources are available, which have included over 100 hours of lectures, unique simulation exercises and practical tools to help infodemic managers track infodemics in their countries. Since their training, graduates have helped each other by sharing information, resources and interpreting infodemic signals.
These trainings have positively impacted the career trajectories of many trainees. Hazel Wallace, a trainee from Australia, who joined Australia’s primary healthcare network as a COVID-19 Communication & Vaccine Demand Officer immediately following the training, said “I see infodemic management as a long-term commitment and career direction.” Trainees have become fact-checkers at Health Analytics Asia and Infodemic Managers with WHO and working in UNICEF country offices and within Doctors Without Borders (MSF). Some even successfully advocated for the creation of infodemic management positions within their own institutions.
The key benefit I have gained from the infodemic management training is a ready-made network of international collaborators with whom I can work on current and future projects including academic papers, research bids, and conference submissions.”
Ministries of Health also now boast WHO-trained infodemic managers in national emergency response task forces, within primary healthcare systems, and at public health departments at national or provincial level. Earlier this year, Sonia Boender, a trained field epidemiologist, was appointed within the Risk Communication Unit at the Robert Koch-Institute (RKI) Germany’s national public health institute, as an infodemic manager. She currently focuses on setting up processes for social listening and integrated insights analysis for public health, in collaboration with technical support from the WHO Infodemic Management team and partners. In Serbia, the Laboratory for infodemiology and infodemic management has been established at the Faculty of Medicine, University of Belgrade. With the support of World Health Organization Country Office in Serbia, two infodemic managers working at the Institute of Social Medicine have gathered a multidisciplinary team which will be conducting research and supporting infodemic management in the country and the region.
Graduates have taken training resources and adapted them to country needs. In Italy, trainees have made exciting progress towards cascading infodemic management competencies with new Ministry of Health (MOH)-endorsed courses to be rolled out to journalists, doctors, community leaders and public servants and with a first national event upcoming. Nigeria is currently rolling out a national infodemic management training at the state level to address local infodemic challenges.
To advance the field of infodemic management together, trainees are conducting research projects, publishing academic papers and developing courses, talks, conference presentations, panel discussions, and webinars. Trainees across the globe are introducing new curriculum on infodemic management at their academic institutions. Portugal and Brazil have solidified an international collaboration with the Rede de Infodemiologica Lusofona to share knowledge, and Serbia and USA have come together with a formal cooperation between University of Belgrade and New York University through the Fulbright Specialist program. Several other trainees also reported creating PhD positions focused on infodemic management in their countries. Trainees have also nurtured new generations of infodemic managers, serving as mentors and coaches in subsequent training programmes.
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1st WHO infodemic manager training
2nd WHO infodemic manager training
3rd WHO infodemic manager training
Infodemic Management introductory workshop
GAVI/WHO/UNICEF/US CDC vaccine demand training
‘This too shall pass away’ this famous Persian adage seems to be defeating us again and again in the case of COVID-19. Despite every effort