The Minster of State for Health,Dr Osagie Enahire has stressed the need for government and health sector stakeholders to recognise and leverage the power of the electronic and print media, to disseminate health information.
The Minister stated this in Abuja at a two day AFRICA CHECK workshop on Fake News that Harms ,a workshop on tackling health misinformation.
Dr Enahire observed that health misinformation had cost huge set back for the country especially on the issue of polio eradication.
“Misinformation is presenting wrong facts and figures about a certain subject and misrepresenting what is known or thought to be true. The trending concept of “fake news” is in that sense predominantly false, distorted, unverified or unverifiable information. Whatever description it is given, fake news is disinformation, lacks integrity and is intended to deceive or do harm.”
“One major reason Nigeria lagged behind in global Polio Elimination Initiatives was the fake news that polio vaccine was in fact a secret ploy to sterilise children and limit population, which made many parents reject immunization. Some health workers even found themselves at risk at the hands of communities that turned hostile. ”
“The setback threatened to derail the polio elimination effort and it took the sustained intervention and campaigns of powerful community influencers, especially Traditional Rulers, to counter the rumour and restore faith in the programme.”he said.
“It is important for both Government and health sector stakeholders to recognise and leverage the power of the electronic and print media, as well as the increasing power of social media, not only to disseminate health information, but combat misinformation.”
“It is also useful to continuously engage community influencers such as traditional, religious and community leaders, and celebrities to reach the public. Public Health information should meet basic criteria:”he added.
Africa Check Executive Director, Mr Peter Cunliffe-Jones,said there are claims made for cures of terrible diseases like HIV, Ebola which People and the media put out on social media, that ends in lost of lives and causing health complications.
Mr Cunliffe-Jones called for continuously engage with community influencers such as traditional, religious and community leaders,media and celebrities to reach the public. on Public Health information to combat misinformation.
In a message ,the Statistician-General of the Federation/Chief Executive Officer ,National Bureau of Statistics ,Dr. Yemi Kale observed that the emergence of fact-checking, data analysis and polling organisations could be considered a natural evolution and consequence of recent institutional developments that have been made to improve the production and dissemination of data in the country.
Participants drawn from Medical field and different media organisations . were taught how to verify information , data and medical claims.