The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (NCDC) has reported that in 2022, a total of 8,846 rumours were logged across the country’s states and 195 LGAs using integrated rumour collation tools developed by the Nigeria Infodemics Management Team (NIMT).
The head of risk communication at NCDC, Dr. Yahaya Disu made the announcement today, at a four-day Nigeria Infodemic Management Team Review Workshop in Kano State.
According to Disu, Kwara and Cross River states had the highest number of rumours logged at 1,250 and 1,175, respectively. Bauchi, Enugu and Oyo states logged 850, 830 and 825, respectively, while Ogun, Plateau and Kano states had 700, 675 and 650 rumours logged, respectively.
Disu stated that NIMT has been leveraging existing structures and integrating with current infodemic response activities of various government agencies and partners, which has proven effective.
The Kano State public health director, Dr. Ashiru Rajab said that the state is prioritising health misinformation and is committed to sharing the information and solutions it learns along the way.
Similarly, the deputy project director risk communication, Breakthrough ACTION, Nigeria (BA-N), Dr. Umar -Farouk Olayinka said that infodemics can be used as a data source and that implementing sound communication strategies can help prevent misinformation in the next public health emergency.
The Nigeria Infodemic Management Team Review workshop also provided an opportunity to step down learning from the Social and Behaviour Change Communication (SBCC) Summit in Morocco and review the Nigeria Infodemic Management Operational guideline. The workshop reiterated the importance of building the capacity of relevant stakeholders, such as healthcare workers and the media, through training and the provision of access to useful infodemic management resources.
In her comments, the senior health correspondent of the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), Ms. Racheal Abujah said that as part of efforts to strengthen infodemic management systems in the country, NAN has been supporting NIMT to review weekly trends across the globe.
Abujah said that it is good for the country to pledge to combat the rampant spread of health misinformation and infodemic.
A WHO-trained infodemic/communications manager, Mr. Joseph Njoku said that the organisation is helping the country to scale down infodemic management concepts to the community level through an intensive, three-hour infodemic simulation crash course. Njoku said that the organisation is also helping the country develop collaborative and organisational skills, which are essential to addressing the challenges of infodemics in the country.
The senior program officer of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), Mr Musa Usman said that combating the infodemic undermining public health is a key responsibility that NPHCDA takes seriously. Usman reiterated the agency’s collaboration with NIMT to better disseminate evidence-based health information benefiting the country.
Effective infodemic management remains essential for pandemic preparedness, promoting positive behaviour change and addressing mis/disinformation.
He reiterated that building and strengthening infodemic management systems in Nigeria is worth the effort, as it supports states in their infodemic management efforts, has a significant impact on public health outcomes and instils trust within communities across the country.
“It is essential,” he said “to ensure that people have access to accurate and reliable information during times of crisis and investing in infodemic management systems is a critical step towards achieving this goal”.