New Delhi: The Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has its task cut out to ensure de-stigmatisation of the Covid-19 issue in India.

Officials in the Ministry told The Sunday Guardian  that they have been receiving a lot of complaints about stigma surrounding the Covid-19 infection amongthe general public across the country and that they are devising new plans to ensure that such a thing is stopped at the earliest.   “Despite it being months of the Covid-19 crisis in India, the general public has still not been able to de-stigmatise Covid-19. We are still getting complaints of how the doctors and other frontline workers, working with Covid-19 patients, are being ostracised in their society;how the migrant workers who are going back or have gone back to their villages are being kept outside their village, some even sleeping in the open for days. Many people are still not disclosing their symptoms fearing that their family members and neighbours would banish them from society. We are also still hearing about doctors and ASHA workers who are going for contact tracing being shooed away,” an official at the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare told this newspaper.

A health worker from Delhi, while speaking to The Sunday Guardian , narrated how she is still facing difficulties in her society as people are looking at her with suspicion.

“Covid-19 is being looked at as a killer diseasein society. I am looked at with suspicion when I go to my society. They think that I am a carrier of coronavirus since I have to spend a lot of time with corona patients. Even ambulance drivers and ward boys who go to pick up and drop Covid patients to and from hospitals are often stopped. If this does not go away, we will not be able to win the war against corona,” the health worker from Delhi said.

Another Health ministry official told this correspondent how people are hiding their health conditions.The official narrated several incidents from across the country where despite having symptoms of Covid-19 the patients are fearful of going to the doctor or getting themselves checked as they feel that if they turn out to be positive, they will be thrown away by society and sometimes even by their own family members.

“We are also getting complaints and seeing media reports from across the country on how people are resisting to set up a quarantine centre in their locality. The quarantine centres are being looked at as some kind of a ghostly place,” the Health ministry official said.  The official further said that such stigma about Covid-19 still exists in society because of a lot of misinformation and fear about the disease, and the lack of education and knowledge about the infection.

“There is a lot of fear mongering with respect to Covid-19 and many believe that it is like a death sentence, not realising the fact that more than 60% of the patients are recovering and the death rate is just 3-5%,” the health ministry official said.

However, following several such complaints and feedback from across the country, the Ministry is regularly educating people through visual and print medium about the ill-effects of stigmatisation aroundthe Covid-19 issue.

The Ministry is releasing audio visual and print advertisements across the country, apart from making announcements at the block and taluka level in every district, educating people about Covid-19 and the ill effects of stigmatisation of the disease.

Ministry officials and doctors say that due to the stigmatisation, a lot of cases are not being reported or being only reported when the symptoms get complicated; this, in turn, is worsening the situation as these patients are potentially transmitting the disease to other people.

“We are regularly carrying out an information campaign on de-stigmatisation of Covid-19. We have also instructed all the state governments to ensure that such stigmatisation is done away with ,” said an official.

One Reply to “Health ministry working to de-stigmatise Covid-19”

  1. Why Testing For Covid-19 appears a Must, Both In Symptomatic And Asymptomatic Situations?
    The world learnt about a new danger to health coming when W.H.O. brought to global notice on 14 January , 2020 that novel Coronavirus has taken birth in Wuhan , China and that it has potential to spread to other parts of the world. The novel Coronavirus was officially designated as Covid-19. Looking back , the virus began noticeable spread after about mid-March , 2020 , taking the world through a major worrisome storm in about a month or so after. As the month of June , 2020 comes to a close , Covid-19 has already brought the world to a stage as if it were gasping for a breath. It is not to say that the world has not taken recourse to every precaution within its reach. But in the absence of an effective cure by way of vaccine or drug , the precautions within human reach seem to have had no capacity to overawe spread-fury of Covid-19. Such precautions were and continue to be – social distancing , lockdown , quarantine , covering mouth and nose portion with a mask , washing hands a number of times with soap in a required manner and the like.
    There are two types of Covid-19 cases – those showing symptoms and others not showing symptoms. In both the cases , testing for Covid-19 can be more meaningful for more than one reason. The results of testing , if negative , can reassure those going in for sex with their partner or otherwise , that they are safe from the angle of Covid-19. This Vedic astrology writer chanced upon reading a news report – “Research says 30 percent of Americans broke quarantine for booty call” – published on 24 June 2020 at Canoe.com. The news report refers to the survey of two thousand Americans , engineered by OnePoll on behalf of MysteryVibe , which found that three in ten have broken quarantine to have sex. Other important points revealed in the said news report of 24 June 2020 read like this :-
    “ The survey found that 58 percent of those surveyed were in quarantine at home with their partners. It said a whopping 76 percent of respondents said they have used lockdown as an opportunity to spice up their sex lives with their partners and 78 percent said they were having more sex during the lockdown. Interestingly , 65 percent of respondents said they are having sex just because they are bored , 60 percent said they are experiencing sexual burnout.” A closer reading of the news report suggests that it cannot be said to be representing overall picture of America as a much larger survey could have contributed to inspiring confidence on a firmer footing. Still , it has certain useful pointers – recourse to sex in the absence of clear knowledge through Covid-19 test could be fraught with danger.
    Another news report in June 2020 said that 40 percent of Covid-19 infection was revealed in age group 20 to 39 among young adults in America.
    In this context , it may be relevant to share with readers the predictive alerts of this Vedic astrology writer for more care and appropriate strategy in article -“ Potential of stars for Italy in soon coming year 2020” – published at http://www.astralis.it/Kumar02.htm on 15 December , 2019. The text of the predictive alert in the article covering a period of three and a half months from mid-March to June 2020, reads like this :-
    “ 4. Some health hazards or health concerns involving digestive system , venereal or sex related disorders in the body could cause worry , calling for more care and appropriate strategy.
    7. Last about two months of November and December 2020 , look to be raking up hidden issues……………………….This scenario can also mean worrisome ailments involving respiratory system in the body or venereal disease or increase in ailments relating to nerves”.
    The predictive alert bringing forth need for more care and appropriate strategy involving digestive system , nerves , sex in relation to health during mid-March to June 2020 was also brought out in another predictive article – “ Planetary indications for Ireland in 2020” – brought to public domain widely on 12 January , 2020. The related text from the article is reproduced here :-
    “But a period of three and a half months from mid-March to June in 2020 has potential or likelihood to introduce unexpected worrisome concerns relating to ………………… War or war-like conditions across the globe may impact Ireland as well. Serious health concerns can make presence during this period , covering stomach , nerves , sex and the like.”
    In conclusion , it can be observed that the findings in the survey report in relation to America brought out on 24 June 2020 , enable drawing the inference that during unemployment , lockdown or quarantine , sex may have probably contributed something to increase Covid-19 infection during mid-March to June 2020. But that finding goes to make this writer’s predictive alert on 15 December 2019 or on 12 January 2020 meaningful —- that there was likelihood of health hazards or serious health worries on account of digestive system , nerves and sex during the mid-March to June 2020. That being so , full-fledged Covid-19 testing could have proved helpful in containing the infection.

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