In an information climate as complex as that surrounding the new coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, local media has a vital role to play in communicating with communities, providing timely, accurate and trustworthy information, as well as channels for gathering and addressing feedback from vulnerable people and sharing it with public health agencies to improve their communications.
Internews is well-placed to address the current outbreak as it is deeply connected to local media partners around the world.
Alongside Internews, BBC Media Action, Evidence Aid, and Translators without Borders are grantees. All four agencies have deep knowledge and expertise in dispelling rumours and combatting misinformation in epidemics, including Ebola and cholera. They will work together to fight the global “infodemic” that is spreading more quickly than the virus itself and putting people at risk.
The goal in this effort is to limit the global and regional impact of COVID-19 by countering misinformation and monitoring social media, disseminating factual information and the latest research to the general public and the scientific community, and working with the main response agencies to create content helpful to the broad community.
The focus of information creation, dissemination and monitoring will be in countries of southeast Asia, focusing initially on Thailand but also including Cambodia, Myanmar, Bangladesh and Malaysia, as well as India and Indonesia.
Trusted and familiar local media outlets and social media influencers will be Internews partners of choice in facilitating this important two-way communication that affected populations will need to have with their health service providers, aid agencies, and local and national governments – especially in local languages.
These trusted local sources and channels have proven in crisis after crisis to be the most effective conduits for the mainstreaming and amplifying of fact-checked information in ways that are appropriately contextualized for vulnerable communities.
The H2H Network is supported by UK Aid from the UK government and hosted by the Danish Refugee Council (DRC).
(Banner photo: Workers disinfect Tehran subway cars against coronavirus. Credit: Zoheir Seidanloo/CC)