For as long as I can remember, I have been fascinated by science and the way it explains the functioning of the human body. During my high school days, I had a keen interest in biology, which helped me score A grades, both at ordinary and advanced levels. Later, this passion influenced my choice of career in health sciences.
Today, as a health promotion practitioner, my duties include demand generation for various health programmes. In executing this, I encounter numerous health-related myths and misconceptions, which I have to dispel and also help build the capacity of grassroots-level cadres to do the same.
The COVID-19 vaccination programme is a telling example of the daunting task. Since it was a novel condition, there was limited knowledge about it and information kept evolving as research availed more answers. This led to abundant misinformation – which I am glad to have fought, and am still fighting. Up to this day, we have people who are eligible for the vaccine, yet they are reluctant to get vaccinated due to widespread misinformation about COVID vaccines. This shows the alarming impact of health misinformation.
In today’s digital age, we are seeing the irreparable damage caused by social media. The speed at which (mis)information can reach multitudes is unbelievable! So, we need to be cautious of what we share on digital platforms (as well as in in-person communications). I have found the acronym S.H.A.R.E to be a helpful guide in deciding whether to share information which I encounter on social media. It stands for: check the Source; Headlines do not always tell the full story; Analyse the facts; images and videos could be Retouched; look out for Errors.Last year, when I came across the opportunity to become a fact checker with First Check, I was excited to join the international community of like-minded individuals. So far, it has been an insightful journey, and I would encourage everyone to join. Fact-checking is essential.
Tracey Nomatter Ruzengwe
Health Promotion Practitioner,