Who we are

The genesis of First Check dates back to 2015, when DataLEADS conducted its maiden boot camp, bringing together doctors and journalists, at the Government Medical College in Srinagar, a stunning remote valley in northern India.


Back then, the term ‘infodemic’ wasn’t a part of our vocabulary; health misinformation hadn’t made its place among the top global public health challenges. Even so, the boot camp gave us our first glimpse of a compelling collaborative initiative. What if we bring doctors and journalists together to make sense of health data and claims, and tell informative, insightful, and engaging health stories?


Our founding team comprising Syed Nazakat, an award-winning journalist, and Dr Sabba Mehmood, a medical practitioner, deliberated on the future of information consumption over a cup of tea. That conversation led to the conception of a data-driven platform.


Since then, we have had several fruitful conversations over countless cups of tea. Some brewed at the homes of our loved ones, some sipped in between meetings, some while replying to endearing emails, and many from tea machines across the world, introducing us to exciting stories, experiences, challenges, and opportunities.


DataLEADS has conducted boot camps in more than 10 Asian countries on data, fact-checking, and the changing health information landscape. Every such interaction has served as a gentle reminder of our immense human abilities, technological advancements, and the many possibilities in today’s world.


In 2019, First Check came into being – with the sole purpose of battling health misinformation, particularly on social media. As a health fact-checking initiative, it was ahead of its times, in many ways.

“How much harm can some innocuous, even if unscientific, health claims really cause?”

we were asked.

In 2020, the answer was loud and clear. The COVID-19 pandemic exposed the world to an onslaught of false, misleading, dangerous claims about the efficacy of vaccines, conspiracy theories about the pandemic, immunity boosters, home remedies, and more.


First Check has been at the forefront in the fight against health misinformation, powered by its unique global collaboration with doctors, researchers, public health professionals, data scientists, technologists and journalists.

Our journey, so far, has been inspiring and rewarding. First Check was awarded the Fact Checking Innovation Initiative by Facebook Journalism Project and International Fact-Checking Network (IFCN). In 2021, First Check became a verified signatory of the Poynter Institute’s International Fact-Checking Network (IFCN) Code of Principles, taking it a step forward in the fight against dis/misinformation.

The number of domain experts volunteering to be a part of our worldwide network continues to grow. However, health fact-checking is still a niche area, even as the surge of unscientific, unsafe health claims grows exponentially. Contrary to popular perceptions, the health misinformation problem didn’t perish at the end of the pandemic. It persists.

First Check is committed to addressing the many persistent challenges in combating health misinformation and exploring sustainable solutions for fostering a healthier information ecosystem.

Because health matters. facts matter.

If you find that First Check has not abided by the Code of Principles, you can bring it to the notice of the IFCN here.

Meet Core Editorial Team


( Founder, First Check )


( Co-founder, First Check )


( Vice President - Partnerships and Outreach )


( Chief Editor )


Digital Manager


( Fact-Checker )


( Deputy Program Manager )


( Data Analyst )


( Senior Video Producer )


( Assistant Video Editor )


( Assistant Video Editor )


( Project Associate )


Research Analyst and Fact-Checker