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January 17, 2020

Facebook to help address online health integrity challenges

Islamabad

January 17, 2020

Islamabad : A Facebook delegation led by Rafael Frankel, Regional Director for Southeast Asia and Emerging Countries, met the PM’s Special Assistant on Health Dr. Zafar Mirza on Wednesday to re-affirm the social media company’s commitment to work with Pakistan to improve health integrity online.

Receiving the delegation, Dr. Zafar 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,” he recollected.

Facebook and the Ministry of Health have been collaborating on targeted efforts to improve the reach of positive public health messages, dispel rumours and fight propaganda for the polio programme and the Safe Blood Transfusion Programme. “The support provided by Facebook is instrumental in reaching out to parents and caregivers with accurate health information,” added Dr. Zafar.

The Facebook delegation also visited the National Emergency Operations Centre, where the National Coordinator for Polio Dr. Rana Safdar briefed them on the country’s progress, remaining challenges and strategies being implemented to interrupt poliovirus transmission.

“Through close collaboration with the Facebook team, the polio programme has developed an optimization strategy and has received support with awareness and call to action messages during national campaigns and much more. We are grateful for this fruitful partnership to assist our engagement with parents in providing them with valuable health information,” said Dr. Safdar.

With the help of Facebook credits, the Pakistan polio programme has been able to disseminate localized health content in targeted areas. Moreover, Facebook has been taking steps to identify false news through the community and a third-party fact-checking organization. This improves health integrity online and assists the programme 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,” said Frankel. Pakistan is one of the two polio endemic countries in the world along with its neighbour Afghanistan. As of today, it has reported 136 polio cases.