A recent news item published by WHO (https://www.afro.who.int/news/south-sudan-covid-19-responders-recount-st...) describes how, with the increase in cases, people affected with COVID-19 as well as healthcare workers, who are in the frontline of the fight against the disease, are being discriminated against on account of heightened fear and misinformation about the infection.
“Stigma towards health workers and those who tested positive is becoming a reality,” said Dr Richard Laku, the Incident Manager for COVID-19 Response at the South Sudan Ministry of Health. “All stakeholders, including the community, need to work together to fight stigma and correct the perception of the community towards the public health and social measures.”
Tut blames the lack of adequate information on the pandemic as the cause of this stigma; especially a lack of understanding of how transmission occurs, and how people should respond to infection. He emphasizes that when sharing important information, the media should encourage people to ask questions and seek clarification.
Stigma can block progress in reducing COVID-19 transmission, driving people to hide the illness to avoid discrimination, preventing them from seeking health care immediately and discouraging people from observing preventive measures like wearing masks and washing hands. It could also negatively impact the process of contact tracing – which is vital in interrupting the chain of infection and preventing onward community transmission.
HIFA profile: Chris Zielinski: As a Visiting Fellow in the Centre for Global Health, Chris leads the Partnerships in Health Information (Phi) programme at the University of Winchester. Formerly an NGO, Phi supports knowledge development and brokers healthcare information exchanges of all kinds. Chris has held senior positions in publishing and knowledge management with WHO in Brazzaville, Geneva, Cairo and New Delhi, with FAO in Rome, ILO in Geneva, and UNIDO in Vienna. Chris also spent three years in London as Chief Executive of the Authors Licensing and Collecting Society. He was the founder of the ExtraMED project (Third World biomedical journals on CD-ROM), and managed the Gates Foundation-supported Health Information Resource Centres project. He served on WHO’s Ethical Review Committee, and was an originator of the African Health Observatory. Chris has been a director of the World Association of Medical Editors, UK Copyright Licensing Agency, Educational Recording Agency, and International Association of Audiovisual Writers and Directors. He has served on the boards of several NGOs and ethics groupings (information and computer ethics and bioethics). UK-based, he is also building houses in Zambia. chris AT chriszielinski.com
His publications are at www.ResearchGate.net and https://winchester.academia.edu/ChrisZielinski/ and his blogs are http://ziggytheblue.wordrpress.com and https://www.tumblr.com/blog/ziggytheblue