I pretended not to have heard that we stigmatize, even at this. When I finally heard, my thought was “is that the best we can do now?” And upon further thought, I am worried because, if we keep quiet about it, the outcome will be our very defeat.
Why add the battle against stigmatization to the tough battle against the dreaded coronavirus?
The act of tagging, labelling or subjecting someone affected by Covid 19 to public disgrace or disapproval is inhumane. The truth is we solve nothing by engaging in this act. You do not stand immune to Covid 19 by stigmatizing another person[s]. Like everyone else, you have not stepped out of the box of being at risk.
In case you are not aware, you are another problem instead of being a solution. Stigma can do a number of harm not to just one person, not to just one community but to the global situation.
The stigma on Covid 19 can;
• Prevent people from seeking medical care especially for Covid 19 symptoms. But why resort to infringing on the rights of persons and prevent them from saving their own lives and that of others? How then do we fight this and get our world to be better than it is now? Stop the stigma, we are saving lives by being partners; a combined effort to save our lives and that of our people.
• Worsen the current situation- claim more lives; just end it. Stigmatization is not only inhumane but unpatriotic, it is also destructive to one’s mental health. Watch your words and actions, they can leave others depressed and reduce their own abilities to recover. Don’t be a murderer, don’t just be responsible for the death of another person. Or reduce their chances of recovery with your words and actions. That is certainly not the best you can do.
• Be the enemy within. Stigmatizing another person when we are all not safe and we are all in this fight together as a human race is not the best we can do as members of one team. Survivors of the knocks of this unseen virus, should be applauded and loved. Saying very demoralizing words to them or about them and acting all better makes you an enemy within. After all, the fight is not over and nobody is out of the risk yet. Let’s be humans, “it’s my turn today, luck you if you are negative. But you are at risk.”
• Be a pull back on the efforts of the frontliners; the very individuals who did not bargain to be at the face of the battle to all human. Some very dedicated and hardworking individuals are risking their lives and that of their own loved ones to be fighting to save the lives of other humans. These health workers are willingly risking their own lives to save others. How mean can you be to them by subjecting the products and success of their toils to depression and weakness. Why would you prevent others from helping them; by reporting symptoms early and receive healthcare like they would if they were sick of any other disease?
The facts are:
v We are all at Risk. Yes, you are, just like anyone else. Persons who have recovered are fighters who have won this challenge in their own ways. You do not know your chances of survival or contraction, just be good. Do not talk about them if you are not acting to save yourself and others or congratulating them for their wins.
v The virus is not racial, ethnical or associated with any affluence. This virus does no respecter of persons, you are not better than anyone else. As neutral as it can be, it can affect even the highest in government, at the workplace or in the community. It simply does not care who you are, you can equally contract it.
v The fight is still on. Till now, we do not have a vaccine nor a cure. So basically we have not so much a defense for ourselves, just understand that we are not through yet. As such, do your part to be safe, thereby saving other lives.
v Covid 19 is not a death sentence. There are a huge number of recoveries in the face of this deadly virus. Everyone stands the chance of recovering, when they do, that must have been a great struggle there. If they did not fall in their struggles with the infection, your words and actions should not break them.
My five words of Advice to you are:
i. Covid 19 is not the end for no one, but it can be deadly to anyone.
ii. We are all in this fight together, you haven’t won yet, don’t make others feel bad for surviving or enjoying their basic human rights when they are unwell.
iii. You either be a part of the answer or the problem itself. Why be the problem at this time? Stop the Stigma
IV. If the strong hands of the virus could not end their lives, your words and actions should not. Don’t talk if you have nothing improving to say.
v. We all are at Risk. You are as vulnerable as everyone else. Just Stay Safe, stop stigmatization.
Like H.E Nana Addo Dankwa said, “We are certainly not in normal times”. We should not punish ourselves or anyone to fight Stigmatization and the Sharing of False Information, in addition to our greater battle of fighting COVID 19.
Until then, LETS SPREAD LOVE, DON’T STIGMATIZE!
Please observe the 3S- Stay Home, Stay Safe and Stop the Spread!
Writer- Veronica Ewurama Agyiri.
A final year Communication student at Central University.
Veronica writes to help correct social problems that retards development in communities, country and the world at large.