Doctors Association Kashmir (DAK) on Friday asked people in the Valley not to stigmatize Covid-19 patients.
“People who are affected by Covid-19 are increasingly facing discrimination,” said DAK President and influenza expert Dr Nisar ul Hassan.
“Even those who have recovered from Covid-19 face such discrimination,” he said.
Dr Nisar said Covid patients are labeled, isolated and abandoned.
“An environment of fear and panic has been created which is fuelling a deplorable wave of discrimination against those who are affected by the virus,” he said.
Dr Nisar said people need to understand that everyone is at risk regardless who you are or where you are.
“It must be noted that the condition is curable and most people recover from it,” he said.
Dr Nisar said we need to move from the language of fear and paranoia to empathy and care.
“In times of crisis, patients and their families need support and co-operation from others,” he said.
“Patients feel depressed, hurt and angry when friends and others in the community avoid them for fear of getting Covid,” he added.
Dr Nisar said stigma drives people to hide their illness, prevents people from seeking health care and discourages them from adopting healthy behavior.
“This facilitates the spread of the virus and pushes up Covid deaths,” he said.
Dr Nisar said there is an urgent need to scale up awareness among people on Covid and do away with the stigma that has come to surround pandemic. More education is needed to counter the prejudices against the affected.
“It is important to recognize that what is communicated is just as important as how it is communicated,” he said.
“Clear and honest communication and the use of non-discriminatory language have the potential to significantly improve attitude and behavior of people related to Covid-19 and reduce stigma.
Health care service providers should communicate transparently and work reliably that will alleviate fears among the community and reduce stigmatization and social discrimination,” said Dr Nisar.