From Our Bureau
16TH JUNE 2020
The Corona Virus (COVID-19) pandemic situation remained grim globally, with the confirmed cases across the world soaring to 79,41,791 and the death toll reaching 4,34,796 in the 216 affected countries and territories, according to the latest update from the World Health Organization (WHO).
Globally, American region continued to be the worst-hit with 38,41,609 confirmed cases and 2,03,574 deaths. Europe came next with 24,34,184 confirmed cases and 1,88,779 deaths. Eastern Mediterranean region reported 7,96,759 confirmed cases and 17,558 deaths.
South-East Asia region’s tally stood at 4,86,673 confirmed cases and 13,409 deaths. Western Pacific region recorded 1,99,922 confirmed cases and 7,228 deaths and African region registered 1,81,903 confirmed cases and 4,235 deaths. WHO Risk Assessment at global level remained very high.
WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, in his regular media briefing yesterday, stressed that “Despite the ongoing global response to the COVID-19 pandemic, we cannot lose sight of other significant public health issues, including influenza.”
WHO urges countries to address the sharp decline in influenza surveillance and testing during the COVID-19 pandemic, especially as the southern hemisphere enters the flu season.
Yemen is the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, and it is now facing another major threat to health security — COVID-19. A health care worked asked Yemenis to be extremely vigilant and protect themselves, and urged them to stay at home as health care workers put their lives at unprecedented risk to save lives.
In today’s Subject in Focus, we look at the WHO Information Network for Epidemics (EPI-WIN), which is tackling the spread of mis- and dis-information and rumours during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Subject in Focus: The WHO Information Network for epidemics – listening to our stakeholders
Since its declaration of a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (30 January 2020), WHO has coordinated global response efforts, working with other United Nations agencies, national governments and a host of other partners. One of the primary objectives of WHO’s Information Network for Epidemics (EPI-WIN) in the COVID-19 response is to manage “infodemics”, which can spread mis- and dis-information and rumours during a health emergency, potentially hamper an effective response or be harmful to public health.
Infodemics management includes the use of trusted amplifiers in societies to give a wider range of audiences the knowledge they need to take preventive measures. EPI-WIN holds technical webinars to engage with these amplifiers. Sixty webinars have been organised since January 2020 featuring over 270 subject matter experts and panellists. In total, the webinars have reached over 12,000 participants from 121 countries.
EPI-WIN has also put in place a basic monitoring and evaluation plan to assess the webinars’ effectiveness, identify areas for improvement, measure stakeholders’ satisfaction and track audience attitudes and behaviour during the COVID-19 response.
On 29 May and 2 June 2020, WHO hosted two webinars, entitled “returning to work” (1,400 participants) and “Vaccines—the science” (600 participants); questionnaires were sent to samples of participants, with 192 and 55 respondents completing the survey respectively.
The surveys included 20 questions asking participants to indicate whether the webinar met their expectations on a five-point scale (1: fully met, to 5: not met), 65 percent gave a score of 1 or 2, indicating that expectations had been met. Questions also covered demographics (i.e. age, gender and country of residence), ‘amplification potential’ (i.e. participants’ social media engagement, outreach potential for further information dissemination, and the sentiment of pandemic in their professional environment).
Fostering a culture of continuous learning
Eighty percent of the respondents were satisfied (their questions addressed during the webinars), nevertheless, one lesson captured from the surveys was that innovative ways to facilitate and encourage greater interaction between participants should be explored. One solution in the making is to develop a community of practice platform, to complement EPI-WIN webinars. (eom)