Tina D Purnat

Public health

Health misinformation

Infodemic management

Digital and health policy

Health information and informatics

Tina D Purnat
Tina D Purnat
Tina D Purnat
Tina D Purnat
Tina D Purnat
Tina D Purnat
Tina D Purnat

Public health

Health misinformation

Infodemic management

Digital and health policy

Health information and informatics

Blog Post

Teaching analysis tools for infodemic managers through scenario-based team games

During my tenure leading WHO’s infodemic management team amid the COVID-19 crisis and the subsequent integration of post-pandemic capacities into routine systems, a recurring request from frontline public health practitioners was for guidance on generating rapid analysis and actionable insights.

In the midst of emergencies, where health system capacities and community needs are in constant flux, the ability to swiftly produce insights to inform practice and service design becomes paramount.

In addressing this need, it became evident that a common challenge lies in navigating the ever-changing information landscape and its impact on promoting health guidance and services—a challenge exacerbated by weak evidence.

To borrow from W. Edwards Deming, “Without data and evidence, you are just another person with an opinion.”

As part of the Heidelberg Institute of Global Health’s short MPH course in infectious diseases, my colleagues Fekri Dureab, Ahmed Al-Akhbari, Elisabeth Wilhelm, and I developed and facilitated five scenario-based practical exercises aimed at providing students with hands-on experience in rapid analysis and insights generation. Here’s a concise summary of the initiative:

  1. Each scenario, designed to last 45 minutes, includes an introduction, collaborative class work, and discussion. Students work in teams and are provided with in-class worksheets and fictitious data sets to analyze, along with a set of solutions for further study.
  2. The tools and methodologies taught encompass UNICEF’s Journey to Health tool from their Human-Centered Design toolkit, the WHO/UNICEF Infodemic Insights manual, and the US CDC’s Rapid Community Assessment guide.
  3. The scenarios cover a range of pertinent health topics, including shingles vaccination in individuals aged 65 and older, malaria, measles outbreaks in refugee settings, binge drinking among young people, and gonorrhea in young men.
  4. To foster engagement and incentivize participation, teams are incentivized with prizes as they progress through the scenarios and present their findings. Each team embodies one of four superhero personas: the Epidemic Eliminators, Public Health Pioneers, Health Guardians, and Wellness Wizards.

This class teaching module not only equips students with practical skills but also cultivates a collaborative spirit, mirroring the dynamic nature of public health practice in real-world scenarios.

By fostering a culture of rapid analysis and evidence-based decision-making, we aim to empower the next generation of public health leaders to effectively navigate emergent challenges and drive impactful change.

The full set of materials, including faciltiator’s presentation, student worksheets, and assignment data and solutions can be found on this Google Drive and the slide deck is also available for view and download below.