Stakeholders advocate for more collaborative efforts to curb health misinformation
Participants at a one-day workshop on the Niger State Health Misinformation Management Project have advocated for more collaborative efforts to tackle the spread of misinformation in the health sector.
The workshop, which was organised by a health communication and advocacy organisation, Nigeria Health Watch (NHW), which seeks to advocate for better health for all Nigerians, had participants drawn from the Media, patient medicine dealers, Islamic and traditional medicine vendors, health officials, religious organisations, and community leaders, among others.
Addressing the participants during the workshop at the Haske Luxury Hotel, Minna, on Wednesday, the Programme Director of NHW, Kemisola Agbaoye, said the organisation had actively engaged and supported the government both at the state and national level in raising awareness and increasing knowledge on a wide range of health issues in Nigeria.
She disclosed that since its inception in 2009, NHW has provided informed commentary and in-depth analysis of health issues in the country, aimed at advocating for better health for Nigerians and meeting the health information needs of both patients and health professionals, adding that they want to hold duty bearers accountable so as to deliver affordable and quality healthcare to Nigerians.
She observed that misinformation hinders good service delivery in the health sector and that without proper management of misinformation, a lot of health issues will be left unresolved; hence, the essence of the workshop was to engage stakeholders to collaborate to fight the menace of misinformation on health issues.
The NHW Programme Director also recalled the era of Ebola, where people were misinformed and made to drink and bathe with salt water, as well as the COVID-19 period, where there was a lot of misinformation about the COVID-19 vaccine, saying such misinformation was a bane to providing good healthcare services to the people.
In his presentation of the findings on the health misinformation project in Niger State, Programme Coordinator of NHW, Abara Erim, said the overall objective of the project was to assess and analyse health misinformation in the state.
He disclosed that eight local government areas spread across the three zones were selected for the project out of the 25 local government areas in the state, which include Chanchaga, Wushishi, Paikoro, Kontagora, Gbako, Magama, Mashegu, and Shiroro local government areas.
He also revealed that they spoke to about 407 people during the baseline interaction, while at the endline they spoke to 424 respondents, and that their findings revealed that misinformation remains a prevalent issue within the community, healthcare providers play a key role in debunking misinformation, falsehoods about vaccine safety and efficacy still persist, and misinformation spreads without vetting.
The Deputy Director of Public Health in Niger State, NaAllah Ibrahim Ismail, who was represented by Dr. Safiya Sadiq Etsu, while welcoming the participants to the workshop, said management of health misinformation was the responsibility of all and we must ensure we all play our role effectively to curb the trend of misinformation in the health sector.
The Deputy Director also observed that with the calibre of people at the workshop, it will be a fruitful engagement, urging the participants to contribute meaningfully to the fight against misinformation in the health sector.
Highlights of the event were the interactive discussion and breakout session where the participants made valuable contributions and commitments, believing that misinformation is a threat to quality healthcare delivery in the state and stressing the need for all stakeholders to strive to ensure that the menace of misinformation was brought to its bare minimum.