BY NADIA BADARUDIN – 13 SEPTEMBER 2016 @ 4:36 PM
Health articles you read on social media may not be based on facts. Local doctors have started a Facebook page to debunk the myths.
“What is the first thing to do when someone is having a stroke? Prick the tip of the person’s fingers to ‘milk out’ the blood clots.”
“Vaccinations are linked to suicidal thoughts.”
“This 10-in-1 drink can cure all illnesses including cancer.”
“This chocolate can make your child a genius.”
Sound familiar? We may have come across such medical myths or product claims every day when checking Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc. Some myths and misconceptions still endure no matter how often they have been disproved, no thanks to the “sharing-is-caring” culture on the social media network.
Realising how the situation is putting public health at stake, a group of Malaysian health and medical practitioners have set up a Facebook page to debunk such false beliefs and to stop fear-mongering pertaining to health and medical issues.
The initiative, called Medical Mythbusters Malaysia or M3, reaches out to the public via a familiar online channel for the betterment of public health. It went online for the first time on June 3 and was officially launched by the Health Ministry’s Director General Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah.
CORRECT, CREDIBLE, QUICK
The public started to take note of M3 following its response to a religious figure’s controversial comment on vaccination recently. Its co-founder and Health Ministry medical officer Dr Ahmad Firdaus Mohd Haris says M3 functions as a one-stop centre for the public to obtain valid medical facts from credible resources.
In other words, it is like the answer to all those coordinated efforts responsible for spreading dubious claims.
“M3 is both proactive and reactive in its content. The content is mainly responsive to what’s trending on social media or any random medical fact. With the diverse background of our members, we can respond effectively by getting the right person to write on a certain issue.
“Most importantly, the content is created using simple words and in layman’s terms, making the knowledge easily accessible and understandable,” he says.
Currently, M3 has 40 volunteers who are experts in a variety of medical fields (each member goes through a thorough background check by the founding members before he/she is accepted).
Dr Ahmad Firdaus says the group aims to publish at least one article a day during peak hours between 8am and 8pm. Each article or post will be counterchecked by the members before it is published. However, M3 does not provide personal medical advice.
“We entertain general health questions but it’s against our practice to provide medical advice without knowing the detailed history of a patient,” he adds.
Based on the data retrieved from Facebook, most of M3 followers are women and individuals aged 25-34. The group plans to include more social media platforms to spread the right messages by engaging younger medical professionals who are social media savvy.
Medical Mythbusters M3 was initially known as the Medical Avengers Initiative. The idea was first mooted at the launch of a book (Diagnosis Apokalips) in March by a group of doctors (including the book’s co-writers): Dr Mahyuddin Mohamed, Dr Mohd Syamirullah Rahim, Dr Khairul Hafidz Alkhair, Dr Ahmad Firdaus Mohd Haris and a blogger who goes by the name MOFrust of MOfrust.com. It has over 37,000 likes on Facebook at present.
Check out M3 at www.facebook.com/MedicalMythbustersMalaysia