Facebook To Address Pakistan's Health Integrity Challenges Online


Facebook to address Pakistan's health integrity challenges online

ISLAMABAD, (UrduPoint / Pakistan Point News - 15th Jan, 2020 ) :A Facebook delegation on Wednesday re-affirmed the social media company's commitment to work with the Government of Pakistan to improve health integrity online.

The delegation assured this during a meeting with Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Health Dr Zafar Mirza, who highlighted the importance of communicating correct health information online and stressed the need to counter harmful content on social media.

"As was seen in Peshawar in April, it is not just jeopardizing polio eradication efforts but also putting the lives of our children at risk. Moreover, we see the power of Facebook everyday through the blood donation initiative." Facebook and the Ministry of Health have been collaborating on targeted efforts to improve the reach of positive public health messages, dispelling rumours and fighting propaganda for the polio program and the Safe Blood Transfusion Programme. "The generous support provided by Facebook is instrumental in reaching out to parents and caregivers with accurate health information," added Dr Mirza. The Facebook delegation, led by Rafael Frankel, Regional Director for Southeast Asia and Emerging Countries also visited the National Emergency Operations Centre for polio during the visit.

National Coordinator for Polio Dr Rana Muhammad Safdar briefed the team on the country's progress, remaining challenges and strategies being implemented to interrupt the polio virus transmission.

"Through close collaboration with the Facebook team, the polio programme has developed an optimization strategy, received support with awareness and call to action messages during national campaigns and much more." "We express our gratitude for this fruitful partnership to assist our engagement with parents in providing them with valuable health information," Dr Safdar said. With the help of Facebook credits, Pakistan polio programme has been able to disseminate localized content in targeted areas for greater reach of public health messages. Moreover, Facebook has been taking steps to better identify false news through the community and a third-party fact-checking organization.

This improves health integrity online and assists the polio program in overcoming one of its main challenges. "We welcome this opportunity to visit Pakistan and admire the work that has been done by the polio programme. We stand behind the national and global efforts to create a polio-free world and will continue to support these efforts," said Frankel.

Pakistan is one of the two polio endemic countries in the world along with its neighbour Afghanistan. The country has made steady and impressive progress since 1994 by managing to reduce the number of polio cases.

However, in 2019 the programme has seen a significant spread of the virus due to various reasons, including negative information on social media. As of today, 136 polio cases across all provinces have been reported.

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