Once a victim of health misinformation, I know from my own experience that it can lead to grave mistrust and negatively impact public health. Even before the pandemic, health misinformation has been a serious challenge in the Philippines.
Whether it’s the proliferation of fake news and false information on social media platforms or misleading advertisements about medical products and procedures, often marketed as “miracle cures”, the challenges have got tougher in the last couple of years. When these claims come from celebrities, it results in an amplified algorithm for the misinformation to spread faster.
Alone, I knew that I couldn’t fight these celebrities and social media influencers. So, during the pandemic, I started collaborating with various institutions and organisations to help amplify fact-check stories and engage with the youth.
That’s how I became a science communicator. My goal was to share knowledge about the fascinating world of science, especially among those who had difficulty in accessing and understanding the subject. Given that many people find it hard to comprehend medical terminologies and health news, they become unsuspecting victims who fall for unscientific claims.
As a society, I believe, we need to build trust in science in order to safeguard public health. We cannot be distrustful of healthcare professionals and medical institutions. In Philippines, I hope that the government will address this issue in all earnestness. Citizens deserve assess to factual information. Regulation of the marketing and sale of health products is an urgent need.
We all have important roles to play. When I joined First Check, I was looking to explore how other countries are battling the infodemic. Till date, the learning continues. There’s so much we can learn from each other; there’s so much we can do!
John Aloyzeus Reotutar
Biologist & writer