WHO competency framework for health authorities and institutions to manage infodemics: its development and features

Hum Resour Health. 2022 May 7;20(1):35. doi: 10.1186/s12960-022-00733-0.


Background: In April 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) Information Network for Epidemics produced an agenda for managing the COVID-19 infodemic. "Infodemic" refers to the overabundance of information-including mis- and disinformation. In this agenda it was pointed out the need to create a competency framework for infodemic management (IM). This framework was released by WHO on 20th September 2021. This paper presents the WHO framework for IM by highlighting the different investigative steps behind its development.

Methods: The framework was built through three steps. Step 1 included the preparatory work following the guidelines in the Guide to writing Competency Framework for WHO Academy courses. Step 2 was based on a qualitative study with participants (N = 25), identified worldwide on the basis of their academic background in relevant fields of IM or of their professional experience in IM activities at the institutional level. The interviews were conducted online between December 2020 and January 2021, they were video-recorded and analyzed using thematic analysis. In Step 3, two stakeholder panels were conducted to revise the framework.

Results: The competency framework contains four primary domains, each of which comprised main activities, related tasks, and knowledge and skills. It identifies competencies to manage and monitor infodemics, to design, conduct and evaluate appropriate interventions, as well as to strengthen health systems. Its main purpose is to assist institutions in reinforcing their IM capacities and implementing effective IM processes and actions according to their individual contexts and resources.

Conclusion: The competency framework is not intended to be a regulatory document nor a training curriculum. As a WHO initiative, it serves as a reference tool to be applied according to local priorities and needs within the different countries. This framework can assist institutions in strengthening IM capacity by hiring, staff development, and human resources planning.

Keywords: Competencies; Infodemic; Workforce.

MeSH terms

  • COVID-19* / epidemiology
  • Curriculum
  • Humans
  • Infodemic*
  • Staff Development
  • World Health Organization