Coronavirus (856) Tackling COVID-19 fear and stigma

25 July, 2020

From the WHO AFRO website. Full text: https://www.afro.who.int/news/tackling-covid-19-fear-and-stigma

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Tackling COVID-19 fear and stigma

Hesitancy to get tested, avoiding contact tracers or wariness of what the neighbours will say: the COVID-19 pandemic has triggered a variety of reactions among some Ouagadougou residents that have complicated timely response... COVID-19 is a new virus and the fear of the unknown drives stigma about the disease and can cause people to hide their illness. Fear can also hold people back from seeking immediate health care or observing preventive measures...

Providing the right information about COVID-19, addressing misinformation and rumours, as well as building trust with communities, are critical in addressing stigma. In addition, communicating with empathy to patients of COVID-19 is as important as engaging with community, religious leaders and other influencers to relay the right information and help reduce fear and how people perceive those who are ill with the virus...

Dr Brice Bicaba, the national COVID-19 response coordinator, acknowledges that not only are patients stigmatized, health workers, especially those in COVID-19 treatment centres, are also shunned by their communities who fear that their jobs have put them at a higher risk of contracting the virus. He also points out that involving people who have recovered from COVID-19 in public information and education campaigns as well as providing psychosocial support are some of the measures being deployed against stigma...

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Best wishes, Neil

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HIFA profile: Neil Pakenham-Walsh is coordinator of the HIFA global health campaign (Healthcare Information For All - www.hifa.org ), a global community with more than 20,000 members in 180 countries, interacting on six global forums in four languages in collaboration with WHO. Twitter: @hifa_org FB: facebook.com/HIFAdotORG neil@hifa.org