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Gulu District Leaders Concerned About Stigma Against COVID-19 Patients

Irene Lamwaka Aziz, a resident of Palaro Sub-County said her grandmother tested positive for the virus and consequently some residents in her village denied her family members access to shops and water sources for fear getting infected.
23 Jul 2021 11:56
Northern Uganda Regional Prisons Commander Margaret Orik Obonyo recieve her COVID-19 jab recently - Photo by Dominic Ochola

Audio 3

Gulu District Task Force has raised a red flag against the rampant community stigma against covid-19 patients.

The leaders are concerned that several individuals who tested positive for the virus during the second wave of the pandemic and were treated are constantly facing hostility, rejection, ridicule and humiliation after they have been discharged from the hospital.

Vincent Ouma, the Omel Sub-County LCIII Chairperson says that three patients who recovered from the plague and were discharged with a certificate are constantly being stigmatized and denied rights of association.

Ouma said his office has recorded complaints from the affected residents that they are experiencing avoidance, physical confrontation and insults from their close relatives and neighbours.

//Cue in..."Malube ki cases….” 

Cue out… yat ki gang.”//

Irene Lamwaka Aziz, a resident of Palaro Sub-County said her grandmother tested positive for the virus and consequently some residents in her village denied her family members access to shops and water sources for fear of getting infected.

//Cue in..."There is a lot….”

Cue out… understand at all.”//

Dr Kenneth Canna, the Acting District Health Officer said the incidences of hostility are rampant and threatening infection control yet the trajectory indicates apparently that infection rates have reduced in the community.

//Cue in..."Overall the positivity…

Cue out… not moving down.”//

Dr Canna who doubles as the Secretary to the Task Force disclosed that they have resolved to issue certificates of discharge to all patients as a guarantee that they are no longer a risk to the community.

Among other interventions to scale down community stigma, Dr Canna pointed out that they have set up a team of health experts to make regular monitoring visits to all individuals who were discharged and conduct awareness creation to their immediate family members.

As of Wednesday, available statistics from the District Health Department indicates that both Gulu City and Gulu District have treated a total of 3,230 cumulative confirmed cases. Of those, the death stands at 111.

Currently, there are 15 active cases of patients undergoing treatment at St. Mary’s Hospital Lacor and 09 at Gulu Regional Referral Hospital while 169 patients are under home-based care management; 110 for Gulu City and 59 in Gulu District.