The expansion of the coronavirus and its global reach has been a source of alarm and a call for coordinated action to stop it from spreading further. While you may be concerned about how to be safe during the pandemic, it’s vital that we keep coronavirus-related stigma to a minimum, as it could exacerbate an already difficult situation.
Individuals have been subjected to verbal and even physical harassment around the world because their ethnicity was incorrectly linked to the illness.
Everyone who is affected by a public health emergency service is under a lot of stress. It’s critical to keep informed as well as to be polite and supportive of one another. Words have power and adopting language that reinforces stereotypes might discourage people from getting tested and taking the steps necessary to protect themselves and their communities.
What is social stigma?
In the context of health, social stigma is the negative association that develops between a person or group of people who share characteristics and a certain illness. Because of a perceived association with a disease, persons may be labelled, stereotyped, discriminated against, treated separately, and/or lose status during an outbreak.
Patients with the disease, as well as their caregivers, family, friends, and communities, maybe badly affected by such treatment. Even if they don’t have the condition, those who share other features with this group may be stigmatised.
Why is COVID-19 causing so much stigma?
The level of stigma associated with COVID-19 is influenced by three main factors:
1) It’s a new disease with many unknowns;
2) We’re afraid of the unknown; and
3) It’s easy to associate our fear with ‘others.’
The public’s confusion, anxiety, and fear is understandable. Regrettably, these factors also contribute to the spread of harmful stereotypes.
What is the impact of stigma?
Stigma can destroy social cohesion and lead to social isolation among groups, which may contribute to a situation in which the virus is more likely to spread, not less. This can lead to more serious health problems and make containing a disease epidemic more difficult.
- Encourage people to conceal their disease in order to escape discrimination.
- Prevent people from obtaining medical help right away.
- Dissuade people from engaging in good habits.
Dr. Santosh Datar – Medical Director Ziqitza Healthcare limited says such treatment can contrarily influence those with the infection, as well as them and their family, companions, and networks. Individuals who don’t have the sickness however share different attributes with this gathering may likewise experience the ill effects of disgrace.
The current COVID-19 flare-up has incited social shame and prejudicial ways of behaving against individuals of specific ethnic foundations as well as anybody seen to have been in touch with the infection. Which causes phycological illness and mentally issue.
In compliance with National Health Mission (NHM) Ziqitza Healthcare has set up 104 medical advice helpline which operates 24×7 through a call centre in the state of Odisha and Madhya Pradesh. The main objective of this helpline was to aid minor phycological illness and counselling. During Covid19 pandemic 104 was declared as official helpline for COVID related enquires and Ziqitza has been managing over 10,000 calls.
The “Saving & Enhancing Lives” mission of Ziqitza Rajasthan has resulted in the saving of over 42 million lives, as well as the transfer of 2.5 million corona patients and the management of over 2 million telehealth calls.
How to address social stigma?
Experts advise people to exhibit empathy for those who are afflicted, to learn about the condition, and to take effective, practical steps to keep themselves and their loved ones safe. Each of us may help to prevent discrimination by being nice, speaking up against negative stereotypes, learning more about mental health, and sharing personal experiences to provide the essential support.
Certain phrases (i.e. questionable case, seclusion) and terminology used while discussing coronavirus disease may have a negative connotation for some people, fueling stigmatizing attitudes. They can reinforce negative stereotypes or beliefs about the condition, promote incorrect links between the disease and other causes, disseminate dread, and dehumanize those who suffer from it. This may cause people to refuse to be screened, tested, or quarantined.
Spread facts, not fear
Inadequate knowledge about how the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is spread and treated, as well as how to avoid infection, can exacerbate stigma. Here are a few things you can do to assist stop misinformation from spreading:
- Use only official, reliable sources such as the Ministry of Health, the World Health Organisation, and UNICEF.
- Before acting, believing advice, or spreading information online, check the facts on official websites or social media platforms.
Spreading false information, even if it appears to be accurate, is not a good idea.