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Community Conversations on Vaccines, Episode 12

Infodemic Management’s Future with Media Trainer Kiran Maharaj and Researcher Dr. Chizoba Wonodi

November 17, 2022

Kiran Maharaj and Dr. Chizoba Wonodi discuss the infodemic and approaches to mitigating the spread of misinformation across health and science issues.

Sabin Vaccine Institute’s Community Conversations on Vaccines, presented by Immunization Advocates, explores issues related to vaccines and immunization in low and middle-income countries through discussions with close-to-community professionals, including health workers, journalists, and researchers.

Co-hosts Vince Blaser and Francesca Montalto are joined by Kiran Maharaj, veteran journalist and co-founder and president of the Media Institute of the Caribbean and Caribbean Investigative Journalism Network, and Dr. Chizoba Wonodi, researcher and principal investigator, founder of Women Advocates for Vaccine Access (WAVA), and Nigeria Country Director at Johns Hopkins International Vaccine Access Center (IVAC). They discuss the infodemic and approaches to mitigating the spread of misinformation and disinformation across science and health issues, including vaccines and climate change. Kiran and Chizoba consider how to build and sustain the level of vaccine acceptance in the communities and delve into the role of credible messengers and the media in managing the infodemic surrounding vaccines and immunization.

To learn more about Kiran and Chizoba’s thoughts on the role of health workers, journalists, media, and respected community leaders in addressing the infodemic to increase vaccine acceptance and demand, check out the key takeaways of this episode or the transcript.

Key Highlights:

  • 03:05 – 05:10  Understanding What the Infodemic is  The infodemic, be it mal-information, disinformation, or misinformation, is dangerous regarding health. The infodemic is one of the challenges faced by the WHO in the acceptability of vaccines. There is a need for the community to be aware of the detriments associated with the infodemic.
  • 17:30 – 18:46 – Educate Respected Individuals in the Community on Vaccines Respected individuals in a community are the people that are listened to by the public, so to combat the infodemic, they should be educated on vaccines and their importance health-wise. They would go on to spread the information faster and more efficiently. Respected leaders in a community can include school teachers and religious leaders.
  • 26:36 – 27:55 Benefits of Organizing Workshops and Seminars on the Infodemic There is a challenge in understanding medical terms as it could be complicated. Organizing seminars will help to educate the general public and would generally lead to increased vaccine acceptance.
“The best way to educate the people is using the people they respect in the community to pass the message of vaccine importance.”
Kiran Maharaj
Co-Founder and President, Media Institute of the Caribbean
Trinidad and Tobago

Working with Communities: Social and Behavioral Research Grants Spotlight

“We need more innovative ways to reach people. We need more channels. We need to identify where people are getting their information, who they trust to provide that information, and then partner with those channels and the messengers to provide the right information.”
Dr. Chizoba Wonodi
Founder, Women Advocates for Vaccine Access
Nigeria, United States

Meet Our Guests

Kiran Maharaj
Kiran Maharaj is the co-founder and president of the non-profit entities, Media Institute of the Caribbean, headquartered in Jamaica; and Caribbean Investigative Journalism Network. She is also a media owner based in Trinidad and Tobago and has been in media for 30 years. Kiran founded the world’s first radio station for women, Heartbeat Radio for Women. Her other roles include that of Director of the Trinidad & Tobago Publishers and Broadcasters Association and Senior Vice President of the Trinidad & Tobago Chamber of Industry and Commerce.
Kiran Maharaj
Chizoba Wonodi
Dr. Chizoba Wonodi is public health physician with over 27 years of research and program experience in Africa, Asia and America. She serves as the Nigeria Country Director at the International Vaccine Access Centre (IVAC). In this role, she leads an important portfolio of work on technical assistance, implementation research and policy advocacy to improve immunization service delivery and primary health care systems in the country. She is currently the principal investigator for a Gates Foundation-funded project to improve immunization uptake by sending SMS messages to inform, educate and remind caregivers of their child’s vaccinations. Implemented as a cluster randomized trial, this intervention – the Immunization Reminder and Information SMS System – is intentionally large in scope to demonstrate how innovations like SMS reminders can be taken to scale. In keeping with her focus on public health practice, Dr. Wonodi founded the Women Advocates for Vaccine Access (WAVA), a coalition of Civil Society Organizations (CSO) in Nigeria advocating for increased uptake of vaccines and for sustainable financing of immunization programs. WAVA serves as the secretariat for the national platform, the Expanded Civil Society Initiative for Immunization (ECSII) in Nigeria. At the global level, Dr. Wonodi holds the vice chair position of the Gavi CSO Platform Steering Committee, a body that coordinates Civil Societies active in immunization. Connect with Chizoba on Twitter @chizobawonodi
Chizoba Wonodi