WHILE the Lambda and Mu coronavirus variants are not (as of now) a matter of concern among health experts, the ongoing infodemic is.
“This is the first pandemic of its kind in the age of social media,” said former Health secretary Dr. Esperanza I. Cabral at a recent webinar organized by the Philippine Medical Association. “Misinformation can stem from our knowledge gaps. Disinformation is more insidious, with certain groups trying to sow seeds of distrust towards institutions.”
An infodemic is a rapid and far-reaching spread of both accurate and inaccurate information about something, such as a disease.
It’s very difficult to address disinformation nowadays, added Dr. Dominga “Minguita” B. Padilla, a co-convener of Doctors for Truth and Public Welfare. “Much disinformation is fallacy mixed with truth.”
To develop trust, Dr. Cabral suggested the following:
- Understand your audience — What are their ages? What is their communication style? Tailor your means of communication to accommodate these factors.
- Communicate uncertainty clearly — Stating that not all information is available is better than making claims.
- Watch social media — Monitoring social media is a way to understand what questions are being asked, as well as know what knowledge gaps are present, so these can be addressed.
“We need to identify where misinformation is coming from, so we can stop it at the source,” said Dr. Cabral. — Patricia B. Mirasol