Health Writers Consultation red flagged Fake Health News as a menace

Delhi Deliberations of HEAL’s 3 day National Health Writers & Editors Convention called out pressing Healthcare Issues

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New Delhi: Fake health news is increasingly invading the mind space of patients in India. Hope selling and cure peddling are becoming fatal tools of taking treatment and health seekers for a ride. Internet enabled quackery, clothing itself as science of medicine, has a field day. Many of the fake health news, based on dubious claims and misinformation, are very popular shared and liked by millions of people.

Red flagging fake health news as a menace, the 3 day National Health Writers and Editors Convention from December 18 in Radisson Blue Hotel, Dwarka under the aegis of HEAL Foundation expressed deep concern about pervading fake health news in India. The panel discussion on the subject called for immediate steps to stem the rot. The panel discussion was moderated by none other than KG Suresh, Director General of Indian Institute of Mass Communication (IIMC), apex institution of journalism in the country. Mr Suresh said he was seized of the matter and would associate big time with HEAL Foundation to clean health journalism of this hazard. IIMC joined this convention as an academic partner.

The other upshot of the convention was dipping trust between Doctors and patients to all time low. The speakers on the panel discussion on ‘Upholding Trust in Healthcare’ agreed that communication could play a crucial role in building trust.

More than 75 health journalists gathered under one roof to upgrade their knowledge about pressing health issues and network with their peers. 40 leaders of the health care industry interacted with a niche audience of health media. The convention is a national platform for health writers and editors to gain firsthand knowledge about various health issues directly from the pioneers of the healthcare industry.

Addressing the congregation, Chief Guest Ashwini Kumar Choubey, Minister of State for Ministry of Health & Family Welfare said, “It’s an irony that even after seven decades of freedom, 62.58% citizens don’t have health insurance. As a result, every year around 4% citizens get stuck in the vicious cycle of poverty due to unbearable health expenses. Government is upgrading 58 medical colleges and establishing super specialty blocks in 73 medical colleges to fight the menace.’

Mr Choubey further said, ‘I congratulate HEAL Foundation for taking the initiative of capacity building of health writers – especially vernacular media – from all parts of the country and I am assured that intense discussion on Ayushman Bharat and healthy India will definitely yield fruitful results and benefit government too’

The panel discussions on a number of issues had speakers like Dr Ashok Seth Padam Bhushan Awardee, Chairman and Cardiologist Fortis Hospital, Dr Shakti Kumar Gupta Medical Superintendent AIIMS and K G Suresh, Director General of Indian Institute of Mass Communication, presented their viewpoints. Mr Suresh also promised a long-term association with HEAL Foundation for the capacity building of the health writers and editors. Ashi Kathuria, Senior Nutrition Specialist at World Bank shared insights on FSSAI’s Eat Right India Movement which is spreading the message of Food Fortification and Food Safety.

Sharing his opinion on Upholding Trust in Healthcare, Dr. Seth said, “Doctors always work under a lot of pressure during odd hours, which often results in miscommunication or no communication. For trust building among patients and doctors, it is very important for doctors to have empathy toward patients. A clear and polite communication goes a long way in trust building. Few words from doctors decide the words of patient’s relatives if things go haywire. Patient’s feedback for the same result can be ‘Doctor tried his best’ or ‘doctor was negligent’ depending on doctor’s empathy and communication.”

Swadeep Srivastva, Founder HEAL Foundation, and Founding Managing Partner India Virtual Hospital said, “The convention has established itself as a bridge between health journalists and doctors, hospitals, pharma industry, and other industry players. Journalists get the opportunity for capacity building from key industry leaders that give them access to the first-hand information about industry developments. The objective of the 6th convention was to touch-base our health writers and editors with the recent advances in the healthcare industry and increasing roles and responsibilities of health media in the holistic improvement of healthcare.”
Cipla and Maharishi Ayurveda participated in the convention as Berok Zindagi and Ayurveda partners respectively. Cipla organized free pulmonary function tests for the attendees of the convention whereas Maharishi Ayurveda arranged a free Ayurveda check-up.

The event was concluded with the distribution of HEAL Health Honours – recognizing excellence in healthcare.

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