San Francisco, June 11: With an aim to empower the public on how social media and behavioural sciences can be leveraged to improve the health of communities, Facebook has formed a global alliance called 'Alliance for Advancing Health Online with leading health organisations.
The partners include the Bay Area Global Health Alliance, the CDC Foundation, Facebook, the MIT Initiative on the Digital Economy, Merck, Sabin Vaccine Institute, the Vaccine Confidence Project at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, the World Bank and the World Health Organisation (WHO).
Merck and Facebook are each committing $20 million to this multi-year initiative, which will initially focus on addressing vaccine hesitancy and vaccine equity among underserved communities. The Alliance has established the Vaccine Confidence Fund, an independent fund to support research on how social media and online platforms can best support confidence in and access to COVID-19 vaccines around the world, as well as routine immunizations impacted by the pandemic.
The goal of this initial research is to produce timely, practical applications, focused on reaching historically underserved communities and those communities particularly at risk in the COVID-19 pandemic, Facebook said in a statement on Wednesday. "The Alliance will help us build a deeper understanding of the dynamics of health communication online and how the global community can use social media to improve health," said Heidi Larson, head of the Vaccine Confidence Project at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.
The Fund will provide grants to researchers and organisations that are exploring how best to use behavioural science, social media and digital platforms to build confidence in and access to vaccines.
"The Alliance for Advancing Health Online and the new Vaccine Confidence Fund are important steps forward in leveraging social media for health impact at scale," said Andy Pattison, Team Lead, Digital Channels, WHO.