Practical ways to address COVID-19 stigma and manage its effects

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What is stigma?

Generally, stigma can be understood as a deeply demeaning attribute that separates and creates an invisible wall between an individual and the rest of society. Stigma can be felt by an individual or groups of people or even nations. Stigmatized people tend to develop a sense of worthlessness, feel devalued, and less of human beings. Focusing attention on preventing the spread of COVID-19 is as important as managing the social, cultural and economic consequences of the virus and measures associated with its prevention.

Manifestations of stigma during COVID-19:
In the case of COVID-19, stigma, at least in Uganda, has been witnessed in form of;
  1. Derogatory behaviors directed toward people who have COVID-19, those recovering and their families.
  2. Derogatory remarks and labels against families, friends and even general communities whose loved ones have COVID-19 or recovering from it.
  3. Associating the origin of COVID-19 to a particular community or race.
  4. Attacks on people who have COVID-19 and those who have travelled abroad and their families.
  5. Various forms of discrimination; labeling or name calling; shaming; stereotyping among others.
  6. Strained social relationships, reduced family cohesion, isolation and loss of support.