the bongino report

WHO’s new pandemic initiative uses “listening surveillance systems” to detect “misinformation and rumors.”

World Health Organization Launches New Pandemic Prevention Initiative

The World Health Organization (WHO) has launched a new initiative called Preparedness and Resilience for Emerging Threats (PRET) to guide countries in pandemic planning. The initiative aims to incorporate the latest tools and approaches for shared learning and collective action established during the COVID-19 pandemic. One of the key components of the initiative is the use of “social listening surveillance systems” to identify rumors and misinformation.

What is an Infodemic?

According to the PRET document, the spread of content deemed “misinformation” amounts to a new “health threat” called “infodemics.” Infodemics refer to the overabundance of information – accurate or not – which makes it difficult for individuals to adopt behaviors that will protect their health and the health of their families and communities. The infodemic can directly impact health, hamper the implementation of public health countermeasures, and undermine trust and social cohesiveness.

How Will the WHO Combat Infodemics?

The WHO suggests establishing and investing in resources for social listening surveillance systems and capacities to identify concerns as well as rumors and misinformation. The organization also recommends tailoring communication to the community of interest, focusing on and prioritizing vulnerable groups. New tools and approaches for social listening have been developed using new technologies such as artificial intelligence to listen to population concerns on social media.

Testing Strategies During Acute Respiratory Events

The PRET initiative report suggests testing out these strategies during “acute respiratory events including seasonal influenza” and involving the public and private sectors. This includes implementing infodemic management across sectors and having a coordinated approach with other actors, including academia, civil society, and international agencies.

These revelations come amidst the WHO’s efforts to codify a controversial Pandemic Treaty, which would cause signatories to cede control over many aspects of their country’s pandemic control and public health measures.

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