Sharing health information on communicable diseases
The UAE Cabinet passed a resolution in April 2020, on publishing and sharing health information related to communicable diseases. The resolution provides information and guidelines on the correct procedure which would be through spokespersons, experts and government officials authorised to do so. The resolution is aimed at quelling the act of spreading rumours and fake news.
The resolution stipulates that Ministry of Health and Prevention (MoHaP) and local health authorities will announce all health information, adopt health guidelines in the country and publish the health guidelines related to communicable diseases after obtaining approval of National Emergency Crisis and Disaster Management Authority (NCEMA).
Under the resolution, it is prohibited to publish, republish or circulate false and misleading health-related information or guidelines any information that is not announced officially or is not approved by MoHaP or other health authorities, or the information contradicts with what has been announced through print, audio, visual media or through social media, websites, IT tools or other types of media.
Ministries and federal and local entities are required to seek NCEMA's approval before replying to or commenting on any health information related to epidemics. After approval from NCEMA, they need to nominate official spokespersons for speaking on the matter. The UAE Government Communication Office at the General Secretariat of the Cabinet shall select and approve the spokespersons.
Violators will face a fine of up to AED 20,000 for publishing or re-publishing false and misleading health information. MoHaP or other health authorities may impose the fine and follow up on compliance with the resolution.