Healthy Lifestyle

Revolutionizing Online Health: WHO and YouTube Health Unite to Elevate Quality Health Information

In a groundbreaking collaboration aimed at revolutionizing the digital health landscape, the WHO Office on Quality of Care and Patient Safety in Athens joined forces with YouTube Health to host a transformative workshop in Berlin. This visionary endeavor seeks to enhance the quality of health information available online while supporting the commendable efforts of Member States in this critical area. By forging this innovative partnership, we strive to promote health literacy and ensure that individuals worldwide can easily access accurate and reliable health information.

Dr. Natasha Azzopardi-Muscat, Director of WHO/Europe’s Division of Country Health Policies and Systems, expressed her enthusiasm, stating, “We are very much looking forward to working together for a world where people can access the health information they need online without having to guess its accuracy.” With a shared commitment to empowering individuals through knowledge, this collaboration aims to reshape the digital landscape and enable users to navigate online health information with confidence and clarity.

Unleashing the Potential of Digital Platforms in Healthcare

The COVID-19 pandemic has thrust the pivotal role of digital platforms in disseminating health-related information into the spotlight, underscoring the significance of reliable information while exposing the dangers of misinformation and disinformation. Astounding data reveals that a substantial number of consultations in the WHO European Region now occur online, with individuals turning to the internet to search for symptoms and medical advice. Health-related searches constitute a staggering 7% of daily online inquiries, with approximately 4 billion results linked to COVID-19.

Recognizing the impact and reach of digital platforms, YouTube witnessed over 110 billion views of health condition videos globally in 2021. As a powerful tool for disseminating knowledge, YouTube is actively working to elevate high-quality health content, making it easier for users to identify credible information that can address their pressing questions. Dr. Nira Goren, Clinical Lead at YouTube Health, emphasized the platform’s influence, stating, “People use platforms like YouTube to seek answers to questions, such as how do I live with breast cancer or how do I take care of myself.” Furthermore, individuals increasingly rely on online platforms to share personal stories, find solace in times of distress, and foster communities that alleviate feelings of isolation.

However, the proliferation of inaccurate or misleading online health information poses a significant risk to individual health. A recent WHO review has highlighted the detrimental effects of infodemics and misinformation on people’s health behaviors. Misconceptions surrounding health hazards like smoking, alcohol consumption, unhealthy dietary habits, and physical inactivity can lead to life-altering and potentially fatal noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) such as cancer or diabetes.

Empowering Individuals through High-Quality Health Information Online

High-quality health information serves as a catalyst for empowering individuals to take charge of their well-being, make informed decisions about treatment options, and improve their overall quality of life. As more people turn to the internet for medical guidance, it is crucial that the available information is reliable, accurate, easily comprehensible, and up-to-date. Achieving this goal requires collaboration with healthcare stakeholders across Member States in the WHO European Region, fostering inclusive partnerships that bring together patients, healthcare professionals, ministries, non-governmental organizations, and major social media platforms.

The imperative lies in harnessing the potential of social media platforms as pivotal tools for improving and disseminating high-quality health information online. By actively listening to community concerns, promoting understanding of risks, offering expert health advice, and empowering communities to take positive action, we can leverage the reach and influence of social media platforms to drive meaningful change. Moreover, establishing trust in authoritative online health information sources at the population level necessitates collaboration with academia and other partners to generate robust scientific evidence on the impact of misinformation on quality of care.

Dr. Garth Graham, Director and Global Head of Healthcare and Public Health at YouTube, emphasized the importance of education in empowering communities to lead healthier lives. He remarked, “YouTube Health is delighted to interact with WHO and authoritative health sources across Europe to increase access to evidence-based, equitable, and engaging health information.”

Together, through this pioneering partnership, we embark on a transformative journey, revolutionizing the dissemination of health information online. By fostering trust, amplifying credibility, and empowering individuals with knowledge, we pave the way for a future where reliable health information is readily accessible to all, ultimately improving global health outcomes and empowering individuals to make informed decisions about their well-being.

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