U.S.-Serbia University Partnership to Address Infodemic Harm

U.S.-Serbia University Partnership to Address Infodemic Harm
WHO technical consultation convened leaders from six regions across academia, public health, and health authorities to advance a global curriculum for infodemic management. Emory University participants were Amy Rowland, Communication Director at Emory Global Health Institute, and Claire Jennings, Associate Director of Learning Programs at The Task Force for Global Health. Photo Credit: WHO/Damir Begovic/Belgrade/March 2023

The U.S. Department of State has selected a project between the Emory Global Health Institute and the University of Belgrade Faculty of Medicine — Infodemic Management: Multidisciplinary scholarship and research to strengthen health security — that will build knowledge and increase tools in both institutions to address infodemic harm, including mis- and disinformation.

Rebecca Martin, PhD

Rebecca Martin, PhD

"Institutions of higher learning play a pivotal role in accelerating infodemic management education and research to create an informed, proactive healthcare workforce and resilient health systems to strengthen and maintain societal trust in science and public health programs,” says Dr. Rebecca Martin, Vice President for Global Heath at Emory University. “This is critical for Emory University and University of Belgrade, institutions preparing the next generation of public health practitioners, while also supporting large health care systems that understand the needs of, and maintain trust with, the communities they serve."

Partnership Combines Academic and Research Excellence with Innovation to Achieve Impact

The partners will:

  • Advance infodemic management in higher education by creating an elective infodemic management course tailored to Faculty of Medicine and other biomedical/health field students, pilot the course, and submit for approval as an elective course for the following academic year
  • Unite learners and leaders across disciplines to build organizational capacity in infodemic management by mapping and making recommendations for educational integration opportunities within existing curricula across both universities and within higher education generally
  • Share lessons learned from the program to strengthen connections between faculty, researchers, and public health practitioners in Serbia and the U.S.

Stefan Mandić-Rajčević, MD

Stefan Mandić-Rajčević, MD

“We are excited to teach practical skills that we acquired early during the pandemic, such as generating infodemic insights and recommendations and synthesizing these data with other traditional public health data sets to improve emergency preparedness and response,” said Dr. Stefan Mandić-Rajčević, Coordinator of the Laboratory for Infodemiology and Infodemic Management founded in 2022 within the Faculty of Medicine, University of Belgrade. Since 2021, his team has been working to build cross-disciplinary, multisector capacity within Serbia to detect and mitigate infodemic harm.

Infodemic Recognized as Barrier and Threat to National and Global Health Security

While infodemics are not new, an increase in the volume, velocity, and virality of health information create an imperative for health authorities to build a trusted health information ecosystem and capacity to monitor emerging narratives that can harm health and healthcare delivery. In addition to teaching competencies to monitor, detect, and mitigate infodemic-related harm to public health, the partnership will explore the impact of the information environment and the infodemic, including mis- and disinformation on declining childhood immunization coverage in Serbia, a challenge faced globally as many countries work to regain progress after setbacks during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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About the Partners

Emory Global Health Institute (EGHI)

EGHI works at the intersection of education, research, and practice to achieve global health impact. Since our founding in 2006, EGHI has helped address some of the world’s most critical global health challenges. We do this by fostering equitable partnerships, supporting Emory faculty and their research, and training the next generation of global health leaders. The resulting growth in global health knowledge and capacity contributes to healthier, more resilient communities and gives us new tools to combat emerging threats at home and abroad.

Contact Amy Rowland, MSc, EGHI Communication Director; UPP Project Director

Amy.Rowland@emory.edu | +1 404 457 7800

University of Belgrade - Faculty of Medicine (UBFM)

UBFM is among the oldest and largest medical schools in the Balkans. We make part of the University of Belgrade, which was founded in 1808 and is currently ranked first in Serbia and among the best 400 universities globally. UBFM is the national leader in providing educational and research activities and various health services. Together with the University of Belgrade, we are devoted to studying, education, progress and prosperity, to set the strongest standards in higher education, to cherish and encourage intellectual and personal growth and to stimulate meaningful work and effort which serve to the well-being of the entire society.

Contact Aleksandar Stevanović, MD, UBFM Teaching Assistant.

aleksandar.stevanovic@med.bg.ac.rs | +381 11 36 36 300

U.S. Embassy Belgrade

This project is supported by the U.S. Embassy Belgrade. The opinions and conclusions expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the U.S. Government.