Updated: March 27, 2020 2:32:09 pm
Cases of COVID-19 are rising significantly in India with every passing day. In just a week it has crossed the 700 mark and this is worrying the Indian government as well as the citizens. While India is under 21 days lockdown until April 14 people are stuck at home and are completely dependent on the internet, social media and television for information related to coronavirus pandemic.
Sadly, given the current state the internet is flooded with unverified information, fake news, and rumours and finding authentic information is difficult. This is were Wikipedia is playing a big role by informing people with verified information related to coronavirus pandemic. Wikipedia is providing COVID-19 related information in 9 Indian languages including Bangla, Bhojpuri, Hindi, Kannada, Arabic, Malayalam, Tamil, Telugu, and Urdu.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has warned against an “infodemic” of inaccurate information “that makes it hard for people to find trustworthy sources and reliable guidance when they need it.” This is a monumental challenge that a group of Wikipedia editors is tackling as they add, review, and improve COVID-19 information in English as well as 9 Indian languages.
Given Wikipedia follow an open editing model designed to prevent bias it has partnered with SWASTHA, a branch of another much larger Wikipedia group — WikiProject Medicine which includes doctors and experts from around the globe. WikiProject Medicine has so far produced more than 35,000 medical articles across different languages that are monitored by more than 150 editors. With this partnership, Wikipedia aims to make critical coronavirus health information freely accessible to all Indians.
“Verifying what is a coronavirus fact versus fiction is a huge job, and we are calling on local universities to help as we increase efforts to translate and review local Indic content about the pandemic,” said Abhishek Suryawanshi who’s a part of the newly-formed Wikipedia group. India’s volunteer editors have created multiple articles such as Wikipedia article about the coronavirus pandemic in India, across multiple Indian languages. The English Wikipedia article alone has been edited 1,400 times by more than 100 editors.
SWASTHA works with India’s National Health Authority and Ministry of Health as well as with international pandemic control experts from Johns Hopkins University in the United States and the World Health Organisation in Switzerland. To produce better results SWASTHA said it requires more help from local partners as the pandemic grew to help them reach local communities.
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