American Univesity of Beirut

If doctors and nurses fight the pandemic, he, with the other experts of health communication, tries to defeat "infodemic"

​​A term with which we began to familiarize ourselves, not those who are experts, but that for Marco Bardus, 38, of Buttrio, who today does research and teaches at the university American of Beirut, is a daily study ground. "The communication on the coronavirus has not been managed very well globally and in several countries things got out of hand, people started to be afraid. And fear does not allows information to circulate rationally. You can see the herd effect," He explains. To understand where the mechanism has jammed, Bardus promoted one research, with a thesis project entrusted to one of her students in Health communication in Lebanon. "We are doing research on how people look for information online. The plan had started before the pandemic ended January, but now has even greater attention. In a few weeks we collected around 1300 responses, recruiting participants online with social media advertising among people living in Lebanon. The study will help us understand what are the characteristics of people looking for information on the internet. What is missing, generally speaking, is people's ability to find information from official sources. Many people share information on social media without reading what they share." And that's how fakes are born. Now, he explains, he would like to do a similar study in Friuli. "I could replicate the modalities of recruitment that I used in Lebanon leveraging on local social networks. I studied at degree in Public Relations at the University of Udine and, if there was a I would like to do a similar project in collaboration with the university of Friuli." From the University of Udine, Renata Kodilija, coordinator of the degree course three-year degree in Public Relations that Bardus had among his students opens at this possibility: "Certainly the degree course that formed it would be more who is available for possible collaboration. We should think about it. But in principle it could be interesting to be able to do a search similar here too. We will try to get in touch."


Bardus, however, is also cultivating another project. In Lebanon "there are about 500 positive cases and so far a dozen coronavirus deaths. The problem is that you don't knows how many are infected. It is based on the number of tests, but it is an underestimate. For I would like to propose a project by creating a sort of database to monitor the travel, as they did at the University of Singapore. A system of tracking that is based on bluetooth mobile technology." The major knot, in Lebanon, however, that of refugees remains. “There are 1.5 million Syrian refugees here who live in slums, all piled up. If the coronavirus developed there, yes would risk the massacre." Meanwhile, his university has closed for the whole semester and the Prime Minister invited to stay home. 

​"Health communication in Italy is not taught, not even at the level European. There are paths in the USA. I studied in Lugano. Are out from Italy since 2008, since I took the doctoral path, then I went to England and Lebanon, where I have lived since 2016. Ours is the first course of this type of the Middle East." But how do you communicate an emergency? «To our students we teach that there are models to follow to communicate the risk of emergency, which foresee a priori planning." In short, a sort of rehearsal, an exercise to prepare for when there will be an outbreak of contagion. "A civil protection officer should alert a Healthcare company representative who should be attached to the phone with the media. These are procedures that should be done as exercises and validated. Everything should be planned in advance. I don't think there are such plans in Italy. In the end, you have experts of all kinds who say their opinion. Seen from outside, communication seems a little disorganized, but not only in Italy."​

The original ​article was published in IL Gazzettino

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