COVID 19 saw the world experience for the first time a new type of pandemic, the infodemic. Health professionals and scientists became untrusted, theorists and celebrities suddenly became the trusted sources of information and social media became the number one source for information gathering and sharing. This also led to a lot of opportunists using the confusion to share wrong information, market brands and products that were not necessarily healthy and as a result many many people died, even more refused to adhere to the regulations seeing a rise in anti-vaxers and deniers of covid 19.

At the World Heart Summit discussing the topic. with Maria Van Kerkhove, COVID-19 Technical Lead for World Health Organization, Petra Khoury, Director Health and Care Department for International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent , Stephen Ogweno, Founder and CEO of Stowelink Inc, Andrea Baer, Executive Director of Mended Hearts, Esti Nurjadin , Chairwoman of Indonesia Heart Foundation and was Moderated by: Borjana Pervan, Director of Communications and Strategy for World Heart Federation.

With these technical challenges, as a health professional and institution how do you communicate in a time of crisis, when new evidence is coming all the time and evidence is not enough or conclusive. How do you weave narrative that allows you move with your audiences to adjust with new evidence?

This is the topic that we discussed at the World heart summit and during the discussion, perhaps the one thing that came out best is trust. Without trust, there is no authenticity and with no authenticity people lose you. Which begs the question how health communicators build trust with their audiences and how can we work with health influences and communicators of the present to build trust and communicate effectively.

The Kenyan Delegation at the World Heart Summit

Some of the ways to do this include, working with influences to create and share content, simplifying health communication to local easy to understand language, government policies supporting health information and practices while discouraging the other negative information through taxations, bans and limitation, improving collaboration and creating communities of influence where information can be shared and trusted.

Overall, multi sectoral collaboration is the way to go!

With Dr Lilian Mbau, CEO Kenya Cardiac Society and Dr Githinji, GCEO Amref Health Worldwide


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