She’s a doctor, a clinical neuroscientist, and a researcher. But DrNetha Hussain
, who moved to theUniversity of Gothenburg
in Sweden for a PhD in clinical neuroscience after studying medicine at theGovernment Medical College
, has also been fighting a tireless war against misinformation and fake news about Covid-19.
She has written several articles related to the medical aspects and socio-economic impact of the pandemic on Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia, created and edited by volunteers around the world, and was recognised for her efforts by theUnited Nations
in July last year.
She is, in fact, an active contributor on Wikipedia and sister projects in English and Malayalam for a decade on topics related to medicine, healthcare, and women’s biographies.
As a medical professional, Hussain is a member of the editorial board ofWikiJournal of Medicine
and has created partnerships with medical institutions for content donation.
Recently honored by Wikipedia for outstanding contributions, she is one of the very few women doctors on the platform contributing medical content.
“I started writing articles when in medical school. When I learned something at school, I used to look up Wikipedia to see if that concept exists there. If it didn't, I would go ahead and write about it myself. In this way, I could reinforce my knowledge, while making that knowledge available to millions of readers,” Hussain told TIMESOFINDIA.com.
When the Covid-19 pandemic first appeared, she tried to learn as much as she could about it. “I used these learnings to create and expand articles.”
She has also recently launched a well-timed project to improve information and content about the Covid19 vaccine and combat misinformation.
Her focus has been on how the pandemic impacts vulnerable groups of individuals, such as in pregnancy. When she realized that misinformation related to the pandemic was rampant, she also worked specifically to counter misinformation, by creating pages like ‘list of unproven methods against Covid-19’ and ‘misinformation related to vaccination’. She also launched the ‘vaccine safety project
’ in August 2020 to map the knowledge gaps.
“Nowadays, people go online to search for healthcare-related information and land on Wikipedia. Research shows that Wikipedia is one of the most popular websites in terms of providing healthcare information. If the readers do not find what they are looking for, they are likely to go to social media and blogs where misinformation is rampant,” she warns. And often she finds friends thanking her when they benefit from articles that she has worked on and improved. Hussain is proud of the fact that prominent medical journals, too, have used content shared by her.
Dr Hussain moved to Sweden in 2016 to pursue a PhD in neuroscience and finished it in 2020. She then started working as a medical doctor, while also researching part-time in Gothenburg on the west coast of the Scandinavian country. She finds Sweden welcoming for immigrants and is part of a small but vibrant Indian community celebrating desi festivals together and organising cultural events.
“But being in the medical profession is challenging because one needs to learn the Swedish language, pass knowledge tests and complete a short training to be able to work as a licensed doctor. This process usually takes months to years,” she says