Let’s stop stigma around Covid-19 to combat the disease effectively
| June 14th 2020
The fear surrounding Covid-19 is palpable and with it has come stigma, a challenge Kenya must grapple with. It is no secret that those who have tested positive for the disease, along with their relatives, have faced untold suffering having being segregated. This is happening even after they are healed and discharged from the hospital.
Research shows that over 95 per cent of people who contract coronavirus recover, with death rates remaining below five per cent. These figures are encouraging, and should nudge Kenyans to start looking at those who have recovered positively.
It is unfortunate that many Kenyans, instead of appreciating that Covid-19 is a treatable condition, have chosen to look at those infected and affected as outcasts, the way leprosy patients were treated back in the day, when they were shunned from their societies and left to die alone. Times have changed and conventional medicine has brought hope to our modern world.
But perhaps, the government gave Kenyans this mindset from the beginning, when it made contracting the virus seem like a crime.
It is common to hear that those who have recovered are thrown out of their dwelling places. This should not be the case -- anybody can contract the coronavirus.
But self-declared physicians have also abrogated themselves the duty of declaring who has coronavirus and who does not despite this being the mandate of the Ministry of Health which has the machinery, expertise and manpower to conduct such tests.
The government, therefore, has an uphill task of educating the public to treat people who have recovered well and not see them as outcasts.
What benefit will it be if the virus is vanquished only for its victims to have lost friends, family and people they were close to?
This is the question that Kenyans need to ask themselves and recall the journey that a condition like HIV and Aids has made over the decades.
That said, Kenyans must remember that while Covid-19 is manageable, there are still personal responsibilities like personal hygiene and social distancing which must be adhered to.
We definitely saw neither of these during the burial ceremonies of ohangla musician Abenny Jachiga and twist crooner John Nzenze.
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