Government warns against stigmatisation of COVID-19 patients

Anambra State Government says it will not tolerate any form of stigmatisation of persons who have tested positive for Coronavirus pandemic.This is even as the state has identified five high risk Local Government Areas (LGAs) of the state.

The LGAs are Awka South, Idemili North, Onitsha North, Onitsha South and Nnewi North.The Government attributed prevalence rate recorded in these LGAs to population density and non compliance with mitigation measures.Commissioner for Health, Dr Vincent Okpala, said this while fielding questions from newsmen shortly after a Joint Emergency Preparedness and Rapid Response Team Meeting held in Awka.

The Stakeholders, Civil Society Organisations, Police, Private sectors, Government Officials, Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) officials, State Chairman, House Committee on Health, State Chairman, Nigeria Medical Association participated in the meeting.According to him, the monthly routine meeting is staged to appraise situation report on COVID-19 in the state, set new targets and discuss related issues and challenges.

He added that it was unacceptable to government for people to resort to stigmatisation of persons who had tested positive for the virus, insisting that testing positive must not be seen as death sentence.

“Government’s position is that there shall not be any stigma attached to it because it is not a death sentence. We must have to de-stigmatise the disease.It is in line with this that Gov. Willie Obiano labeled the treatment centres, ‘Protective Care Centres’ rather than Isolation Centres. The message is that we should not stigmatise anybody with COVID-19,’’ Dr Okpala said.The commissioner, then, enjoined the populace to present themselves for COVID-19 test, as early detection and treatment would enhance quick recovery.

“Our focus is on testing of more people in the state. You don’t need to show symptoms before coming for test. We want to scale up sample collection across the state.’’He commended European Union, World Health Organisation (WHO) and other health partners’ support in strengthening the state health system which was geared towards achieving universal health coverage.

We have received massive support from EU/WHO in the health sector of the state in building capacity of our health workers across the state, LGAs and health facilities to improve quality data reporting and analysis.’’

Mr Akpa Igwe, an official of NCDC, praised the state government’s intervention measures, funding and support services provided in the fight against the virus.
Dr Chukwumuanya Igboekwu, State Coordinator WHO, while analysing the state COVID-19 pandemic update, observed that it had continued to record more cases.He noted that the identified five LGAs had continued to record high cases, but quickly added there was no cause for alarm provided patients availed themselves of treatment offered by government

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