The information age has been on the rack for the spread of misinformation and disinformation lately. It is thus a pleasure to report on a project where the international network has been used to raise information literacy in a way which is both refreshingly new, and yet extremely traditional.
The idea, which has now been successfully applied three times, is to publish the same editorial in as many journals as possible. The focus is on big ideas in the health sector – the editorials have been on climate change and nuclear risk to date. Each of the editorials was co-authored by a high-impact group of leading journal editors and other closely relevant specialists.
As a project, this is not merely a broad communications effort, it is a real game-changer. Normally medical journals go to great lengths to ensure that the material they publish has not appeared in any other medical journals. However, in 2021 over 200 leading medical journals throughout the world published the editorial; in 2022, it was over 270 journals; and in 2023, over 150 journals published the editorial on “Reducing the risks of nuclear war—the role of health professionals” at the time of the anniversary of the Hiroshima bomb. A further editorial on biodiversity is planned for the end of 2023.
This is a completely new and original approach to public speech affecting an entire sector – both the health professionals and the general public – with the overriding objective of raising literacy on these critical topics. There has never been anything remotely like it in the health sector – on in any other sector.
As a project, this united some of the leading journals of the global North – The BMJ. Lancet, New England Journal of Medicine, Journal of the American Medical Association – with leading journals published around the world – including 50 African journals which published the climate change editorial that focused on the continent.
The climate change editorial was initiated by the UK Health Alliance for Climate Change. For the nuclear risk editorial, the prime mover wis the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW), which won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1985 for its work. The World Association of Medical Editors endorsed the editorial at Board level, and Chris Zielinski (WAME President-elect) managed the projects.
For more information about this initiative, please contact Chris Zielinski, vice chair pf IFIP WG 9.2 at firstname.lastname@example.org
Links to editorials and lists of publishing journals:
Call for emergency action to limit global temperature increases, restore biodiversity, and protect health https://www.bmj.com/content/374/bmj.n1734
List of publishing journals: https://www.bmj.com/content/full-list-authors-and-signatories-climate-emergency-editorial-september-2021
COP27 climate change conference: urgent action needed for Africa and the world
List of publishing journals https://www.bmj.com/content/full-list-authors-and-signatories-climate-emergency-editorial-october-2022
Reducing the risks of nuclear war: The role of health professionals https://www.bmj.com/content/382/bmj.p1682
List of publishing journals: https://www.bmj.com/content/full-list-authors-and-signatories-nuclear-risk-editorial-august-2023