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City of Banjul
Saturday, February 27, 2021

Stigmatisation of COVID-19 victims

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Members of the community of Numuyel in the Upper River Region of the country are discriminating against the man who got infected with COVID-19. In fact, it is said that both he and his family are being threatened by villagers to leave their community.

The country’s ministry of health is thus gearing up to intensify psychosocial support and sensitisation in the village as the community threatens to banish the family of the only confirmed case in the village. This is necessary not only in that community but in the country as a whole.

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COVID-19, like malaria, fever or any other disease can happen to anyone regardless of ethnic group, religious or political leanings. It is not some kind of taboo that befalls someone because of evil doing or any other actions.

It is necessary that people show compassion, tolerance and understanding to people who have had the disease because certainly, it is due to no fault of theirs. Ostracizing them will only aggravate their already battered minds.

This may have a negative effect on their recovery and may lead to frustration and some other psychological challenges. It is well known that when someone is stigmatized it can cause such a person to even develop depression and/or other mental health issues which can have devastating effects on his/her family.

Yet, the problem of stigmatisation will not only affect the individual but may hinder health workers’ efforts to fight against this virus. As there is no cure or vaccine as yet, the best way health experts have identified to fight this disease is through prevention. The best way to achieve any progress in this regard is by testing as many people as possible.

If people who have recovered from the disease are stigmatised it will have a negative impact on other people’s willingness to be tested as they will fear being discriminated too. This will hamper the efforts of the health officials in their fight to contain the virus.

It is therefore necessary for people to understand that it is counterproductive to stigmatise people who have been diagnosed with COVID-19 or people who have recovered from it. Let citizens be compassionate and understanding. This is how we can support the health workers.

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