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Stopping the Public Health Infodemic: Wikipedia and W.H.O. Join Forces

Credit: Markus Winkler / Unsplash

The World Health Organization (WHO) and the Wikimedia Foundation, the nonprofit that administers Wikipedia, announced today a collaboration to expand the public’s access to the latest and most reliable information about COVID-19.

The collaboration will make trusted, public health information available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike license at a time when countries face continuing resurgences of COVID-19 and social stability increasingly depends on the public’s shared understanding of the facts.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, WHO has taken steps to prevent an “infodemic”— defined by the organization as “an overabundance of information and the rapid spread of misleading or fabricated news, images, and videos.” 

Through the collaboration, people everywhere will be able to access and share WHO infographics, videos, and other public health assets on Wikimedia Commons, a digital library of free images and other multimedia.

With these new freely-licensed resources, Wikipedia’s more than 250,000 volunteer editors can also build on and expand the site’s COVID-19 coverage, which currently offers more than 5,200 coronavirus-related articles in 175 languages. This WHO content will also be translated across national and regional languages through Wikipedia’s vast network of global volunteers.

“Equitable access to trusted health information is critical to keeping people safe and informed during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organization. “Our new collaboration with the Wikimedia Foundation will increase access to reliable health information from WHO across multiple countries, languages, and devices.”

By making verified information about the pandemic available to more people on one of the world’s most-visited knowledge resources, the organizations aim to help curb this infodemic and ensure everyone can access critical public health information.

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