COVID-19 Health Informatics Project: Experiences From a Pan-South Asia and Asia Pacific Project Funded by ASIS&T
As we reel under the impact of the third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic globally, access to accurate health information has become the key to winning this battle. We are surrounded by lots of information related to COVID-19. These range from official communications from governments and health agencies around the world, news articles, opinion pieces, and information shared by friends and family through social media or messaging apps. All these together have created a situation termed as ‘infodemic’: a flood of information on the COVID-19 pandemic. An important aspect of dealing with this Infodemic is attaining a certain level of Health Information Literacy. Health Information Literacy is the degree to which individuals have the capacity to obtain, process, and understand basic health information and services needed to make appropriate health decisions.
The South Asia Chapter of ASIS&T was granted the ASIS&T Special Project Fund of $7000 for the year 2021-22 on the project proposal, ‘Dealing with COVID-19 and saving people’s lives in South Asia (SA) areas & beyond - A health informatics promotion project’. This health informatics project has brought together a team of a highly dedicated group of members from the South Asia and Asia Pacific chapters of the Association for Information Science and Technology (ASIS&T). This ongoing project was awarded to the South Asia chapter as part of ASIS&T’s policy to encourage chapters to “undertake worthwhile projects”. To develop this proposal ASIS&T members from not only South Asia but the Asia Pacific and European Chapters met regularly around the time when the South Asia region was fighting an intense battle against the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. In this grim scenario, the project with its broad goals was created to help in fighting misinformation and disinformation regarding COVID-19. The broad goals of this health informatics project are:
- To spread awareness about COVID-19 issues and behavior.
- To share the experience of countries with experience of dealing with similar viruses.
- To help inform people by identifying pertinent topics to deal with COVID-19 highlighting the importance of reliable and accurate information.
- To identify and share accurate and reliable information from authoritative information sources to fight misinformation and disinformation regarding COVID-19 information.
The Chapter has set up a YouTube channel to host informative videos for disseminating awareness on a variety of topics on COVID-19 in the South Asia region. We have collaborated with the Asia Pacific Chapter and European Chapter to bring their experiences in dealing with similar viruses in the past. One of the major outcomes of this project is to promote awareness regarding COVID-19 information and aid in fighting the onslaught of fake information, misinformation, and disinformation.
This health informatics project has brought together a team of a highly dedicated group of members from the South Asia and Asia Pacific chapters of the Association for Information Science and Technology (ASIS&T). This ongoing project was awarded to the South Asia chapter as part of ASIS&T’s policy to encourage chapters to “undertake worthwhile projects”. To develop this proposal ASIS&T members from not only South Asia but the Asia Pacific and European Chapters met regularly around the time when the South Asia region was fighting an intense battle against the second wave of the COVID pandemic. In this grim scenario, the project with its broad goals was created to help in fighting misinformation and disinformation regarding COVID-19.
A total of ten videos on a wide range of topics related to COVID-19 will be uploaded to the channel. Of these seven videos on topics such as Myths about COVID-19 vaccines, Stay safe from COVID-19 without or before vaccination, Vaccine Facts: All you need to know about them, Myths about COVID-19, Things to do during the Pandemic, Post COVID precautions and complications have been added to the channel in five languages.
These videos have been translated into Bangla, English, Hindi, Urdu, and Sinhalese by ASIS&T South Asia Chapter team members from the respective countries of Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka.
Multiple collaborations have resulted from this project. The first collaboration with the Asia Pacific chapter resulted in the contribution of three videos added from team members from the AP Chapter Of these three videos, two were created in collaboration with YC Chan, creator of ‘Buddysaurus’ (http://www.buddysaurus.com) for videos on ‘Things to do in self-isolation’ and ‘Things to do in self-isolation Part 2: Showing you care’. To capture the experiences of children during COVID-19, the project team is bringing out the last video of the project on award stories resulting out of the International Digital Story Writing Competition. The broad theme of the competition is “AI and Health’ and the narrow theme is “COVID-19: Imagine, Create and Share”. We have collaborated with the University of Hong Kong and Academy 22 Education for all to conduct this International Competition. A series of twenty workshops have been organized for primary and secondary students beginning from 1st January 2022 to prepare students to participate in this competition. Award-wining authors and artists from the South Asia region have been invited to conduct these workshops. To date, more than 750 participants from 13 countries have registered for this global competition.
Workshops, webinars, and offline events have been organized across the SA region to promote the video content and the competition.
The project team has members from five countries representing both Asia Pacific and South Asia regions. The team members have been meeting twice a month since the beginning of the project in The team is being led by Dr. Bhakti Gala, PhD, Chair, ASIS&T South Asia, Central University of Gujarat, India, with project partners Dr. Sam Chu, PhD, ASIS&T Chapter Assembly Director from the University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, Dr. Anwarul Islam, PhD, Past Chair, ASIS&T South Asia Chapter, Dhaka University from Bangladesh, Dr. Syeda Hina Batool, PhD, Social Media Manager, ASIS&T South Asia Chapter from the University of the Punjab, Pakistan, Ms. Helen Chan, ASIS&T Asia Pacific Chapter from the University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, Dr. Raj Kumar Bhardwaj, PhD, Member, ASIS&T South Asia Chapter from the Central University of Punjab, India, Ms. Manika Lamba, Doctoral Scholar Newsletter Officer, ASIS&T South Asia Chapter from the University of Delhi, India, and Prasadi Kanchana Jayasekara, Member, ASIS&T South Asia Chapter from the University of Ruhuna, Sri Lanka.
Know more about the project: https://www.asist.org/chapters/saasist/blog/
The ASIS&T South Channel Link: YouTube channel