The World Health Organisation (WHO) Africa Infodemic Response Alliance (AIRA) officially launches its social media arm known as Viral Facts Africa.
Viral Facts Africa was launched at a workshop on health communications for leading African influencers from business, sports, the arts and the media hosted by the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, the African Union, the Rockefeller Foundation, Access Challenge and WHO.
Amid the growing spread of COVID-19 and related misinformation in the African continent, the Africa Infodemic Response Alliance (AIRA) initiative was born to combat misinformation related to the pandemic.
This alliance launched in December 2020 with 12 organisations, brings together the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, International Federation of the Red Cross and Red crescent (IFRC), UNICEF, UNESCO, UN Verified, UN Global Pulse, WHO and the fact checking organisations Africa Check, PesaCheck, Agence France Presse Fact Check, Dubawa and Meedan.
Today, the Alliance has grown to include 14 organisations with Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance and Ghana Fact joining the fold.
VIral Facts Africa is a WHO-hosted network that is part of the Africa Infodemic Response Alliance (AIRA), to coordinate actions and pool resources to combat misinformation and fill information gaps around the COVID-19 pandemic and other health emergencies in Africa.
“False claims can spread faster than COVID-19 itself, often because they are simple, visual and tap into our emotions. Viral Facts Africa aims to debunk myths right where they spread, fast, and to help people sort life-saving facts from noise. Together, we can stop viral rumours by sharing viral facts,” Dr Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa, was quoted as saying in the press release.
Viral Facts creates scientific fact-based information, fact-checks, debunks and misinformation literacy content that are highly visual, engaging, and shareable across social platforms.
“COVID-19 is not over, and as vaccines are rolled out across Africa, mask wearing, hand hygiene and physical distancing are still key to saving lives. We need a whole-of-society push to keep these messages fresh in people’s minds and everyone has a role to play as viral health misinformation costs lives,” said Dr Moeti.
To achieve this, Viral fact works with communities to co-design and disseminate it’s contents on different social media platforms.