Pandemic shows importance of infodemic management, says NCDC

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The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has affirmed that the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of infodemic management to effectively respond to the outbreak of diseases.

Its Director-General, Dr. Ifedayo Adetifa, said this yesterday at a three-day Nigeria Infodemic Management Review Workshop (2022) in Nasarawa.

Infodemic has been a significant driver of continued spread of SARS-CoV-2 and emergence of its variants across the globe.

This is due to poor compliance with public health and social measures and growing vaccine hesitancy, stemming from the spread of inaccurate information about the disease.

Therefore, there is need to review the current national infodemic management strategy with a view to strengthening the subnational component for a more responsive, effective and community-centered infodemic response.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) quoted Adetifa as saying that the workshop came at a very critical time given the ongoing pandemic and issues with persistent doubt of COVID-19 and the vaccine.

“The raison d’être of any workshop, project, training and more is very key to have at the back of one’s mind to get the most of any of these opportunities,” he said.

The NCDC DG stressed that the COVID-19 pandemic was far from over despite varying responses globally such as lifting of restrictions.

“If infodemics are not adequately managed, they could be more deadly than the virus itself.

“This workshop aims to review the current infodemic management response and engage more stakeholders to join the fight,” he added.

Executive Director, National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) Dr. Faisal Shuaib, said the COVID-19 vaccine rumour was highly contagious and had been spreading exponentially across the country.

Shuaib, who was represented by Mr. Sani Abdullahi Oji, Programmes Communication Officer, NPHCDA, stressed that rumours and conspiracy theories had contributed to mistrust on COVID-19 vaccination hesitancy.

“But NPHCDA through its COVID-19 Crisis Communication Centre (CRICC) has continued to track COVID-19 vaccine misinformation in real-time and engaging with traditional and social media to disseminate correct information.

“This has led to improved vaccination uptake across the country.

“Being part of infodemic management team is in line with NPHCDA’s policy of ensuring that Nigerians have access to accurate and factual information on COVID-19 and its ongoing vaccination exercise,” he explained.

He assured that the NPHCDA would continue to develop communication interventions targeting individuals, communities, cultural and societal-level factors to protect people against rumours and conspiracy theories in order to flatten the misinformation curve.

Dr. Umar -Farouk Olayinka, Deputy Project Director Risk Communication, Breakthrough ACTION, Nigeria (BA-N), said the National Infodemic Management Team, coordinated by NCDC with the support of BA-N organised the workshop.

She said the workshop was to review the infodemic management response in the country and develop integrated plan for responding to infodemics both at the national and sub-national levels.

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