Emerging issues in covid-19; the exaggerated stigma in history

Tom Kamaliki | 15th June 2020

Emerging issues in covid-19; the exaggerated stigma in history

Emerging issues in covid-19; the exaggerated stigma in history

Tom Kamaliki | 15th June 2020


I am happy to be an African, a true reality that I cannot hide in any secret place. The African culture, just like any other world culture, is associated with some practices that more often point at the doorstep of Professor Stigma. Such include leprosy and epilepsy, which are highly amplified in any version of the Bible. I do confess that I am not privy to other religious books and if they do amplify Professor Stigma as well. However, one common lesson I learned from COVID-19 is that even the so-called G-5 or G-7 or the Asian Tigers, have all saluted Professor Covid Stigma.

COVID-19 has thrown the whole universe in confusion, hence leaving to play several emerging issues that are even more complicated than COVID itself.

  • Stigma: Yes COVID-19 is a dangerous viral disease, but the exaggeration around it that has made people affected with be baptized COVID Victims is what agonizes me most. The big fear has led to serious discrimination, making people infected with COVID-19 stigmatized, isolated, and condemned to death. A village in the Central part of Kenya recently laid an attack on a family that it suspected to be COVID positive, forcing it to be taken to a quarantine center for 14 days, only for medical results to negative. What mental torture?
  • Social Support Programs:

a.    We are unable to visit our beloved ones in hospitals because of the stigma attached to COVID-19. This is even causing more stress to us, our employees, our friends, etc. A good case is that of late Burundi’s President Pierre Nkurunziza whose wife is undergoing COVID-19 treatment in one of the hospitals in Kenya. There are many more such cases.

b.    Rites and rituals around funerals have been limited to only a few. In Kenya, only 25 people can attend any burial. This means most family members and relatives are prevented from attending the burial of their beloved ones. Others are unable to travel because of restrictions in traveling in some regions. 

  • Violation of Human Rights: Yes, the combative measures that various governments have put in place are good but the treatment that citizens have been subjected to while implementing them has caused more pain and stress than COVID itself. Police beatings, some victims succumbing to the beatings, and yet some are employees released late by their employers. Recently, a woman and her fiancé were humiliated and bungled in a police land rover to a forced quarantine center just because the women from a different town had come to visit her fiancé as alleged by the neighbors of the man who had been visited. The media amplified the matter as if it were news, terming the incident as ‘Essential Services’.
  • Funding: COVID-19 has obviously thrown the world of funding in disarray. This is going to affect particularly the NGO sector and more so those in the health sector.
  • Home-based Care: Since the number of infections keeps on surging, some countries have resorted to home-based care for COVID-19 patients, partly because quarantine centers are full to capacity and the costs incurred by the government are high. However, the challenge is ‘are there qualified people at home to support in the home-based care? How safe is this home-based care to family members who are negative? 

The writer is a Human Resource Generalist at Director Level with Consulting skills with having over 10 years in Senior Management.

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