Disease Outbreaks: Expert Advocates Increase Funding for Communication
Dr Motunrayo Adeyemi, a Public Health Physician, University of Ilorin Teaching Hospital (UITH), on Wednesday advocated increased funding for communication management to eradicate rumours on disease outbreak.
Adeyemi made the appeal at a Seminar Presentation of the Department of Epidemiology and Community Health of UITH, entitled: “Rumours in Disease Outbreaks: Implications and Way Forward”.
She called for the integration of communicators and the media in effective prevention of rumours in disease outbreak.
The public health physician also called for increased funding for researches to control disease outbreak in the country.
Adeyemi stated that disease outbreak has become a global pandemic, posing a major public health challenge for the health systems of many nations.
“Simultaneously, numerous rumours, pieces of misinformation and hoaxes have appeared during diseases outbreaks in respect to the etiology, outcomes, prevention and cure of the disease,” she said.
According to her, when emergencies occur, people seek information more than usual and lack of trust, clear and useful timely information cause people to create their own information, which mostly lack scientific basis.
Adeyemi observed that rumours spread more rapidly than news from credible sources, damaging the authenticity of a balance news ecosystem.
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She asserted that misinformation and rumours regarding disease outbreaks are found to hinder the practice of healthy behaviours and promote erroneous practices that further increase the spread of diseases.
This, she said, ultimately resulted in poor, mental health and economics loss.
The expert said effective communication during epidemics and outbreaks was critical component of the public health response.
She noted that research indicated that as of March 2020, nearly 6000 people around the globe were hospitalised because of Coronavirus misinformation.
She explained that implications of rumour could lead to unhealthy or life risking behaviours, psychic sufferings and anxiety, depression, stress, insomnia, stigma and anger, among others.
Adeyemi therefore advised on the timely and transparent announcement of disease outbreaks and other vital information.
“There should be general education and awareness on rumours. Also early detection of rumour and debunking is important,” she said.