Call for applicants for first WHO training in infodemic management
Online training over 4 weeks during 3-27 November 2020
Deadline for submission: 18 October 2020 at 18:00 Geneva Switzerland time
WHO is developing activities to support the country pandemic preparedness and to mitigate the current COVID-19 pandemic which is accompanied by an infodemic. There is an urgent need to address the infodemic accompanying the COVID-19 pandemic, as most countries are battling both. As the world seeks to accelerate the development of medical countermeasures including treatments and safe, effective vaccines, as well as introduced public health measures, misinformation about both has been spreading and growing.
In order to successfully address and mitigate the current infodemic and promote more effective future response, conference participants of the WHO first infodemiology conference recently contributed to a draft public health research agenda that cuts across many fields of specialization. From physics to law to behavioral science to epidemiology to user experience and design—it is clear that an infodemic manager would need a wider array of skills and expertise to successfully address infodemics that go beyond traditional boundaries of epidemiology, risk communication and community engagement and digital media.
WHO and partners invite applications from experienced professionals from the fields of epidemiology, risk communication, health service delivery/health care workers, digital health, policy making (in health and intersectoral), who are responding to the current COVID-19 and overlapping infodemics at country level.
Objectives of the training:
- Build a curriculum and apply it in delivering a training of the first cohort of cross-disciplinary infodemic managers that can be deployed to the field for infodemic response
- Build up the skills of health authority staff in infodemic management
- Offer opportunity for UN staff to learn about infodemic management
- Become the basis for creating future infodemic training facility training modules
Applications are open to freelance consultants, national health authority staff and United Nations staff who meet the selection criteria to constitute the first cohort of trained infodemic managers that support response in countries.
After the training
- the staff of UN and health authorities will apply the gained skills in national response to the infodemic and support the development of networks for skill sharing
- those trainees who are freelance consultants will be included in WHO pool of suitably qualified consultants to support national response in infodemic management through technical assistance assignments in countries
Scope of the training
The intent is to cover a spectrum of infodemic management skills and topics focused on skills needed to apply infodemic management interventions and practice to promote resilience of individuals and communities to the infodemic, including misinformation, and to promote self efficacy of individuals for self-protective health behaviors. The training will encompass both global and region-specific topics in the infodemic and health misinformation.
Target competencies – an infodemic manager should be able to:
- Measure and monitor the impact of infodemics during health emergencies
- Detect and understand spread and impact of infodemics
- Respond and deploy interventions that protect and mitigate the infodemic and its harmful effects
- Evaluate infodemic interventions and strengthen resilience of individuals and communities to infodemics
- Promote the development, adaptation and application of tools for the management of infodemics
The applicants will be included in the training by a selection panel based on eligibility criteria.
Participation in the training is free to participants.
Working language of the training is English and trainees must have working proficiency in English. Interpretation into French, Spanish, Chinese, Russian, and Portuguese will be provided to support discussions with guest speakers.
Planned time commitment of trainees and achievement of course completion:
- 24 hours of lectures/discussions over the course of 3-27 November 2020 (10 sessions, 2-3 hours each)
- Sessions will take place on zoom, in form of lectures and breakout working groups/discussions
- During the training, trainees will work in groups via WhatsApp to discuss and deliver a recommendation for actions in a case study
Trainees need to be present at minimum 80% of sessions, demonstrate active take up of skills and knowledge in a post-training test, and actively contribute to the group work in case study in order to receive a certificate of completion.
Professionals working in the following areas:
- Risk communication and community engagement
- Health service delivery/health care workers
- Digital health
- Policy-makers (in health and intersectoral)
- UN staff
Criteria for eligibility:
- Have work experience of 10+ years in at least two areas of the above areas at sub/national or international level, or 5+ years and advanced agree
- Previous experience working in multicultural settings and workplaces
- Desirable: previous exposure to implementation science or research, or evaluation of programmes
- Demonstrated interest or experience in misinformation topics
Staff from national health authorities/policy-makers and UN agencies can be nominated for participation, but will be competitively selected in case of a high number of applicants.
Individual contractors who are available for field deployments are encouraged to apply.
Women are especially encouraged to apply.
Interested applicants should submit a Letter of Interest, a link to a 4 minute personal video responding to the below questions, and CV by email with the subject line “Training for infodemic managers” indicating their suitability for this initiative and in particular highlighting relevant experience at national or international level.
Applications should be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org, with a copy to email@example.com by 18 October 2020.
Specific application materials
- Letter of interest – max 500 words
- CV in the attached format
- A personal video statement
- Max 4 minutes long
- Submit a link to video
- Respond what do you wish to take this triaging and become an infodemic manager?
- In addition, respond to two of the following questions:
- You’ve been asked by the Ministry of Health to address the unique infodemic response needs of people older 65+. In this country, only 15% of people 65+ have access to the internet and weak linkages to the health care system. There have been increasing reports of elderly people self-medicating with an unproven drug and ending up in emergency rooms. What are some considerations in understanding how misinformation is affecting this population?
- A colleague in a WHO country office shares with you the latest social listening report which indicates that the biggest volume of conversations related to COVID-19 in the past week revolved around education settings and children’s immunity. What are some considerations and additional research you would do in order to interpret this piece of information?
- An early draft of infodemic management strategy suggests indicators for success includes: number of hits on Ministry of Health web site, number of likes on Ministry of Health FB, and number of times the Ministry of Health was quoted by the media on COVId-19 issues. What are some potential issues with these indicators and do you have some suggestions for indicators that better measure impact of infodemic management interventions by Ministry of Health?
- You are in charge of developing messages about COVID-19 for the Ministry of Health and effectively delivering them to various audiences. How would you ensure that the messages are rapidly developed and tested with audiences for acceptability and understandability?
- Last year, the government changed their policy requiring technology companies to report repeat offenders for posting health misinformation on their platforms. This has led to arrests and a high profile trial in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. This has also had a chilling effect on online discourse on open social media platforms. There are concerns that misinformation is being shared on closed platforms that the government does not have access to. How would you analyze and evaluate potential policy options for addressing health misinformation in this national context?
- How would you go about creating an indicator to track misinformation about COVID-19 and how it affects health behaviors?
- You’ve designed a chatbot as a tool for the Ministry of Health message dissemination. How would you approach evaluating this tool’s impact on the health misinformation spread and improved health of population?
- The government COVID-19 incident management structure has pulled you in for an emergency consultation. They ask you to develop an online and offline social listening strategy in 24 hours. Also, you have 0 USD for your budget. How might you go about finding which resources you have available to you and what type of tools might you leverage that are freely available?
- In your country, Ministry of Health is not in charge of COVID-19 messaging and analysis of COVID-19 health information. At the same time, the Ministry-in-charge is addressing misinformation without health expertise. You are concerned that the information that is shared is not in alignment with health guidance. How would you support Ministry of Health in tackling this situation?
- Your colleague calls you and asks you to add one or two questions to the next KAP survey that is going to be rolled out in your country by WHO. WHO colleagues do not know about misinformation exposure or how it may impact peoples’ KAP in the country. What are some questions you would include in the survey and why?
- Ministry of Health has partnered with a technology company to release a beautifully designed COVID-19 information app that is only available on iOS devices. 35% of your country’s population is still using feature phones. What are some potential pitfalls to this strategy for information sharing and what suggestions do you have to address them?
- There are protests in your country’s capital city against wearing of masks and other public health interventions that the government has put in place. At the same time, the Ministry of Health is receiving a large number of phone calls from teacher unions, schools and parents about use of masks in school settings. The social listening and KAP surveys suggest that people think that smoking hookahs in café settings is a low risk activity. There is a nation-wide stockout of ginger which has been promoted online as a COVID-19 preventive treatment. What kind of advice would you give to Ministry of Health on prioritizing responses?