Stop TB Partnership

What do you do to get information about health?

10 January 2017, Brazil - With this question, the researcher and coordinator of the Internet, Health and Society Lab (Laiss - from Fundação Oswaldo Cruz in Brazil), André Pereira, started the presentation of the Sergio Arouca of Quality of Information about Health on the Internet certification. The very first certification for reliable information was awarded to the blog Tuberculose: Circulando a Informação (TB: circulating information), managed by the Brazilian National Tuberculosis Program (NTP).

The answer to the question above is usually: "I use an internet search engine". According to Pereira, the ability to look for information in such an easy way empowers the user. However, the huge amount of information available can also represent a risk. So how can the user know if the information is reliable?

"Internet can represent a benefit, but can also be harmful. It is a benefit once it offers a vast amount of information. But can be harmful, as not everything that is online is true, reliable or has quality of information", explained Pereira.

The first blog to receive the honor has been online since 2012 and has over 15 thousand pageviews a month, from people searching information about TB. The certification ensures to the user that the content is, in fact, comprehensible and reliable. The initiative aims to certificate Brazilian websites on health, ensuring, after several evaluations, the accuracy of the information. As part of the methodology, the websites are evaluated by people from poor communities, with a low education level, to ensure that the language, imagery, layout is simple, direct and comprehensible.

During the presentation of the certification, the representative of the NTP, Patricia Werlang, spoke about the recognition of the blog as an instrument of communication and highlighted that "the certification gives us, with no doubts, an important contribution for the public health in Brazil and, especially, for the fight against TB". The chief of the Reference Center Professor Helio Fraga (in Rio), Otavio Porto, commented that the project is ahead of our time. "At the same time we have an abundance of communication available to us and we have to be careful with the information that we find, its quality and its intentions. Serious and accurate information about TB can avoid unfavorable outcomes."

Carlos Basília, coordinator of the TB Brazil Observatory, spoke about the provocative and bold aspects of the initiative: "It has a social function, as it uses a methodology that empowers the population and supports a reality change." The director of the National School of Public Health, Hermano Castro, closing the presentation, remarked that the central element of this project is the participation of the community of Manguinhos (Rio) in the research. "This dialogue, in fact, has to be with the population who lives the struggles. In the academy, we are not encouraged to reinforce our relations with the communities, that is usually a role of the healthcare professional. But internet changes the perspective, as the professional has to dialogue with the patient, who has more information nowadays."

During the event, a book was launched, under the title Quality of Information on TB Websites: Analysis of the Second Innovative Experiment - from the Laiss/CSEGSF/ENSP, available for download. Watch the presentations from the event here.

Information extracted and translated from