ECOSF and MSTF jointly organized the Virtual Panel Discussion on Health Communication

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ECO Science Foundation in collaboration with Science and Technology Exchange Program (STEP) of the Mustafa Science and Technology Foundation (MSTF) organized a virtual panel discussion on National Policy and Institutional Framework for Health Communication on November 26, 2020.  The panel discussion highlighted the critical role of effective science and health communication particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The virtual discussion brought together renowned experts in science journalism, health and science communication. The objective of the webinar was to sensitize the audience on principles of science and health communication and discussed the significant impact brought by science communication to the public particularly in the light of current pandemic COVID-19.

Ms. Zeinab Al Saffar AL-Mayadeen TV Host, Writer and Producer (Lebanese National) moderated the panel discussion. She opened the webinar by highlighting the critical role of Health Communication and strategies for dealing with infodemic. Ms. Zeinab underscored that the need for communicating accurate information is vital during the pandemic COVID-19.

Prof. Manzoor Hussain Soomro, President ECOSF delivered his talk on “Bridging Science and Society through Science Communication”. Prof. Soomro emphasized that Science and Technology (S&T) has played a central role in the human development, industrial growth and eradication of poverty in certain region of the world. However, S&T has mainly been inward-looking, thus giving rise to unparalleled economic growth and over exploitation of earth’s resources, have further fuelled the inequality around the world, he added. He underscored that S&T must adhere to inclusivity and address human needs to achieve synergy between scientific and societal progress. Prof. Soomro further underlined the important aspects of science and society and how effective science communication plays a central role in addressing misinformation around the COVID-19. 

In the end, Prof. Soomro proposed the way forward and recommendations to establish strong linkages and to build synergy among scientists, journalists and the public in the Islamic World to fight the infodemics and provide reliable and accurate information

Dr. Zarrin Zardar, Executive Director in UNESCO Chair on Communication of Science and Technology underscored the significance of media management and strategies to address the infodemics, Dr. Zardar exemplified various strategies employed by Iranian authorities to identify the fake news and placement of measures to counter these fake news. Dr. Zardar specifically highlighted the roles of using innovative technological solutions by social media outlets to debug the misinformation.

Dr. Mahaletchumy Arujanan, Global Coordinator, International Service for the Acquisition of Agribiotech Applications (ISAAA) who also serves as the Executive Director, Malaysian Biotechnology Information Centre, was among the speakers.

Dr. Arujanan highlighted the significance of effective science communication around the world. She said that the developing countries around the world need to strengthen their efforts in R&D and charging ahead with their own STI strategies and goals. She underlined that a lot of investment is going into R&D, infrastructure, talent development, and policies and regulations; however, there is one area that remains in the backburner or non-existent, and that is Science Communication.

Dr. Arujanan said that science communication holds great significance for society at large. It plays a crucial role of democratizing science; or science literacy among the public. It is an important process that should go hand-in-hand with R&D initiatives, she emphasized.

Dr. Maha further said that advancement in science is often intervened by pseudoscience, fake news, ignorance and non-functioning policies and regulations. In the end she concluded that researchers and scientists should actively engage with the public about their research to widen the impact of science communication.

Dr. Mohamed Elsonbaty Ramadan presented his talk on “Preventing the next infodemic”. Dr. Ramadan underlined that the media is not ready enough to deal with scientific content and often when it comes to science news, the media faces a challenge. While scientists are not really well-equipped to deal with media related matters; due to lack of overall science literacy, the public is unable to assess the information through social media. 

Dr. Ramadan said that solution to this is the infodemic management, applying evidence-based intervention that bring understandable, localized evidence-based information to citizens and drive positive health-seeking behavior. Social media platforms must come forward to use innovative technological solutions to debug the misinformation. Dr. Ramadan concluded that there is a significant need for building the capacity of scientists, journalists and the public to develop effective science communication interface amongst the key stakeholders.

In the end, the panel discussion was followed by Q&A session. The recorded session can be accessed at 

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