Misinformation epidemic in India

Hi all,

I would like to share health related issues, hoping to find out the potential solutions. Here is an issue highlighted by @Dilip.Kumar recently.

“There is a massive epidemic of misinformation in our country especially in nutritional, medicinal interventions and food topics. What do you think can/should be done as a first step to solve for this?”

Instances of misinformation leading to unfortunate outcomes are on the rise. Eg. liver damage due to unsupervised use of herbal remedies shown on youtube. Access to authentic information can reduce this disease burden.

How can we tackle this?

Hi @drsingh, sorry but the fact is no single individual or organization (private players alone) can solve this. :grimacing: The reason is simple, we are a growing country and individuals’ curiosity for information access to be healthy, wealthy, look good etc. is all-time high, and it will experience exponential growth.

It is not the case that only we (India) are facing this problem, in the late nineties the US faced a similar problem. There were a number of websites that provided Health Information, but many of these websites were unreliable and inaccurate. Leads to various serious medical conditions.

And to solve that problem NLM launched MedlinePlus in October 1998 to make sure Americans have medically verified content (immediate access to authoritative health information). In fact, they marketed specifically in partnership with private players. And today that is the go-to website for the world - 200 million visits in 2022.

You can solve for a few million but when we are talking about solving this problem at scale - it is a different game. We can’t draw a blind parallel from Finfluencer but a reference can be taken. The way no private player could have solved that problem, it is not the same but quite similar.

However, if we are talking about solving this problem for a few million, I have a few ideas. :slight_smile:

Hi @Suman_Jile_Health Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I sure agree. This is a hard problem to solve privately.

What I could only think of when @Dilip.Kumar posed this question, is to introduce health and nutrition education as early as K12. Two main reasons,

  1. Eating habits form during childhood. So early education on food, nutrition can help children make an informed choice on what they consume.

  2. Misinformation online and even offline, often arises from the creators ignorance. Educated creators will lead to better information.

But again, this would need agency participation like you pointed out. :slight_smile:

The story of MedlinePlus is super interesting. More on the brighter side, platforms like youtube are starting to address the issue openly and hopefully they invest more in projects like poynter and jigsaw to fact check and nip misinformation at their source.