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Editorial News of Wednesday, 22 April 2020

Source: Ghanaian Times

Ghanaian Times: COVID-19 and stigmatisation

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It’s not a “plague” or an “apocalypse”; it’s not a “Chinese” or “Asian” disease; and people with COVID-19 should not be described as “spreading the virus”.

These are some of the recommendations from the World Health Organization (WHO) as it warns against panic or stigmatization by the public.

Indeed, one of the major concerns following the spread of COVID-19 is the growing spate of stigmatisation of people with the new coronavirus.

The disease has unfortunately serving as a vehicle for discrimination and stigma around the world and is it not only dangerous but also puts everyone at risk

Because of stigmatisation, many people who have the disease could fake not to have the virus just because of being scared of being labelled as “the one with the Coronavirus”.”

Stigmatization for us is the real virus we should all be scared of, because it has the potential to disrupt all the efforts that has been made in the past decades to fight against discrimination and stigma.

The sad thing today is that, many unreasonably people are fuelling discrimination against people who have been infected by the virus instead of encouraging those people to be part of efforts to stop the spread of the disease.

The absurdity of this is demonstrated by the fact that many other people mete out negative treatment and discrimination against those who have even recovered from the disease.

The question to ask is, how can we understand and fight the disease together if we are unable to understand complex disease like COVID-19 and allow people who are infected to hide it because of stigmatisation?

In any case, how can anyone thing that, he or she is protected by discriminating against another because the person is a COVID-19 patient?

In a special paper on stigma around Covid-19, the WHO also said the discrimination stems from three related factors. First, it is a disease that is new and for which there are still many unknowns. Second, everyone is afraid of the unknown, and third, it is easy to associate that fear with ‘others.

While the WHO said anxiety is “understandable,” stigmatisations which stem from it exert a heavy toll on patients.

We are of the opinion that not only is stigmatization wrong and unlawful, it is extremely counterproductive. It drives people to hide their illness to avoid discrimination, and drives them underground, preventing people from seeking care immediately.

We therefore, associate ourselves with the government and the authorities in addressing and condemning such misbehaviour.

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