Author: Joan B. Mute

…Introspection Time with JBM

THE past few days have been so gloomy for me due to the reality of uncountable messages of loss of people I have interacted with closely and are no more. How many can attest with me that what we knew as numbers have been turning into people and people we know or have known before?

There have been different circumstances under which life has been lost besides COVID 19 related and truth be told, generally the atmosphere is filled with so much fear and uncertainty in our families, circles and society at large.

The current pandemic of Covid-19 like other pandemics before, has come with so much STIGMA and cannot be debated further.

Personally, I have had that encounter after a brief episode of some ‘self-isolate’ following an observation of some purported symptoms-an experience I would dread anyone to go through.

As we deal with this reality I am reminded of a common adage which states; ‘If you are not infected, you are affected’.

This article is meant to arouse in the reader the reality of stigma around COVID-19 but also be reminded that we can make our society a better place by awakening the attitude of support that is deep seated in us.

Better Health defines Stigma as a situation where one is viewed in a negative way based on some attributes. Stigma left unattended to have other adverse effects such as hiding symptoms and delaying seeking for medical attention, being prone to depression and feelings of rejection among others.

The message is that social distancing associated with the said pandemic does not suggest neglecting colleagues that have been affected and leaving them to wallow alone in fear and uncertainty. To the contrary, it entails the need for more emotional support from everyone who can.

A study done by UNAIDS show that stigma and discrimination have been recorded since the identification of COVID-19. Sometimes apart from those infected, it has been among those who have recovered from COVID -19 including front liners such as health workers.

The call to awaken a stronger support system is urgent and inevitable if we were to overcome Stigmatization that comes with Covid-19.

Acts of support that overcome stigma are simple and be practical such as sending messages of comfort and encouragement, extending a helping hand where need be, praying for others and  being available for each other while observing the health measures.

Therefore, in work places, village bank platforms, worship platforms, academic spaces, business platforms and families allowing a re-born of a stronger support system is key.  The powerful weapon we hold is that letting our love and care to be as infectious, as contagious as possible, as opposed to behaviour that are discriminatory.

We can be that support system that our society is yearning for, while we fortify ourselves with the truth that;

God has good plans for us, plans to give us a future and a hope not plans to harm us. Jere. 29:11.

That we are reminded to be strong and courageous and not to fear nor be discouraged, for the LORD our God promises to be with us wherever we go. Joshua 1; 9.

That the Lord gives us peace that the world does not give, and therefore we shall not let our hearts to be troubled nor fear. John 14: 27

That we should not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. Matthew 6:34

That God reminds us not to fear and that He has summoned us by our names and we are His. Isaiah 43:1

Our Frontlines need our support, love and appreciation. Employers, Human Resource Managers and other powers that be, should be seen to champion this cause and fight COVID-19 STIGMA and discrimination in the way they treat their personnel.

‘Your illness does not define you. Your strength and courage does.’-Unknown

For the next version of Introspection Time with JBM, check Kalemba every Wednesday.

Author: Joan Beulah Mute is a lecturer in Research Methods, Sociology and Law and Ethics in Public Health at the University of Lusaka.

For feedback or reactions, email [email protected] or follow on Facebook @Joan Mwanza Mute and Twitter @JoanMute


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