CAS says stigma could reverse gains made in war on Covid-19

Thursday, April 30th, 2020 00:00 | By
Health CAS Mercy Mwangangi. Photo/File

Noah Cheploen @cheploennoah

The government has identified stigmatisation as one of the biggest impediments in the fight against coronavirus pandemic in the country with reports emerging of recovered patients being shunned by their communities.

During yesterday’s briefing, Health Chief Administrative Secretary (CAS) Dr. Mercy Mwangangi said some of the recovered patients—now 129—are finding it hard to reintegrate in the society. 

This comes as the number of infections yesterday rose to 384 after the confirmation of 10 cases— nine in Mombasa and one in Nairobi. There were five recoveries.

Describing the reports of stigmatisation as disturbing and unfortunate, the CAS pleaded with Kenyans to embrace and celebrate recovered patients because they are a “symbol of success in the battle against the deadly virus”.

She said since we first reported our first Covid-19 case, we have recorded many recoveries of our people who have been successfully been treated for the disease and who have been able to go home.

“While we celebrate these recoveries we are disturbed that reintegration has not been easy for these people,” said Mwangangi

“We have reports of stigmatisation by members of the community for our recovered cases and this is unfortunate considering our constant appeal to ensure that people are accepted back in the community,” she added.

Citing the case of a patient who recovered from the disease after being placed in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) for days, Mwangangi rued the kind of treatment that he had been subjected to by the community, noting that his family has also suffered harsh treatment. 

Reverse strides

“He was sharing his story with us; he gave us disturbing events with regards to how he has been accepted back to the community; issues and experiences that have not been pleasant for him and his family,” she said.

The Ministry of Health, she said, regards this unfair treatment as a stumbling block which might reverse the strides that the country has made so far. 

“And we appeal to you and remind us all that the only way we can be able to beat this disease is if we avoid issues like stigmatisation,” she said.

“Stigmatisation will lead to few Kenyans accepting to be tested and will frustrate efforts we are putting on the ground to ensure that we flatten this curve,” she added. 

Mwangangi called upon Kenyans to show compassion to all those affected by the disease. 

“We even need to celebrate these people who have been able to go through such a scourge and come out and recovered.

We do continue appeal to our brothers and sisters to be considerate to warmly welcome and embrace our people when discharged from hospital,” she stated. 

Consequently, the Ministry of Health is set to increase sensitisation and public awareness campaigns by bringing on board some of the recovered patients. 

Increase surveillance

The CAS said that the number of confirmed cases in the country had risen to 384 after 10 more people tested positive—nine in Mombasa and one in Nairobi.

The cases in Mombasa are from Old Town, Santana, Bamburi, Miritini, Mikindani, Kibokoni, Ganjoni, Memon and Tudor. The Nairobi case is from Kawangware. 

Their ages range between 10 and 63 while six of the patients are male and four are female, she said, adding that a total of 508 samples collected from 14 counties have been tested in the last 24 hours. 

Five more patients have been discharged bringing the total number of recoveries to 129 while the number of deaths remains 14.

At the same time, the Ministry of Health has now added Kawangware in Nairobi to the list of areas under surveillance, noting that markets in various parts of the country have become the highest source of transmission.

“We have identified markets as one of the areas of transmission…We will deploy surveillance teams to different zones so to interact with public, ensure social distancing, show people correct ways of putting on masks,” she said.

She said she visited one of the markets in Nairobi last weekend and was shocked at the casual manner in which people were taking the fight against coronavirus which is wreaking havoc across the world. 

“I was able to see that some of these measures are not being adhered to… going forward, we are going to deploy more surveillance teams,” she said.

 So far, there are 3,163,185 confirmed cases globally, 219,332 deaths and 975,925 recoveries with the virus which causes acute respiratory problems having been reported in over 200 countries.

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