One of the countries most affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, India has seen the emergence of a wave of disinformation related to the circular disease in the world. WhatsApp. To try to change the situation, health professionals are dedicating themselves to fight false news among residents of rural areas of the country.

ASHA is an organization that brings together health workers to help Indian communities. During the pandemic, this group was tasked with combating fake news. Kamble is part of the group and reported in an interview with The Verge that he spends many hours accessing dozens of groups to clarify doubts and avoid spreading false news. “We don't receive training to eliminate misinformation. We learn on the job and with the interaction of people”, he explained.

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Disinformation is identified as one of the reasons for the increase in the health crisis in India. Several elected leaders of the far-right Bharatiya Janata Party have been speaking out openly about drinking cow urine to prevent Covid-19, with some even making videos of it. “If you respond directly to misinformation by saying it's wrong, people won't listen and will start teasing you,” added Kamble.

Disinformation in India

To guide the residents of the village where she works, the professional says that she gets in touch with doctors specialized in virology, uses newspaper clippings and makes videos for the residents. The hard work seems to be paying off. “In Covid's second wave (March to June 2021), my area reported fewer than 10 cases and no deaths,” she said.

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That year, the challenge of convincing the population to get vaccinated still arose. Big bogus news about the use of immunizers to reduce population has taken hold in India and ASHA members have had a hard time convincing people to get the vaccine. “Older people always tell me that Covid vaccination is like slow poisoning. 'Within six months of being skewered, we will die,'” said Netradipa Patil, who is also part of the group.

"It sounds funny, but it took two months of messages and door-to-door visits to convince more than 90 percent of people to get vaccinated." ASHA members said that after months of fighting misinformation, residents thanked the team.

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