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Social Stigma Prompts Discreet Discharge of COVID-19 Patients in Gulu

Initially, hospitals were holding public send-off events for people who have recovered from COVID-19. But according to medics, many of the people were labelled, stereotyped, discriminated against and experienced loss of status because of the apparent link with the disease which negatively affected their relationship with caregivers, family, friends and communities.
13 Sep 2020 09:06
Some COVID-19 patients who recovered from the global contagion being discharged recently at Gulu Regional Referral Hospital

Audio 3

Gulu Regional Referral Hospital on Saturday discreetly discharged 30 patients who have recovered from Coronavirus Disease – COVID-19. Earlier this week, 27 others were discharged bringing to 275 cumulative recoveries from the facility since May.

The individuals who included Gulu based journalists were flagged off by Dr Paska Apiyo, the Physician in-charge of the COVID-19 treatment centre.

Initially, hospitals were holding public send-off events for people who have recovered from COVID-19. But according to medics, many of the people were labelled, stereotyped, discriminated against and experienced loss of status because of the apparent link with the disease which negatively affected their relationship with caregivers, family, friends and communities.

Several patients of the virus disease who include local leaders have narrated their ordeals on stigma, following their evacuation and admission to the treatment unit, where at least 517 cumulative positive cases have since been admitted.

Denis Ojwee, a veteran journalist undergoing COVID-19 treatment at the facility says the negative community perceptions are driving many people to hideaway with the sickness for fear of discrimination.

//Cue in; “When we were…

Cue out…one another.”//

Martin Ojara Mapenduzi, the District Chairperson who has also been admitted at the facility after testing positive for COVID-19 revealed that anxiety caused by lock-downs, many unknowns around COVID-19 and fear of being infected has given rise to stigma in local communities.

//Cue in; “I am here…

Cue out…on your mask.”//

Mapenduzi, who has been pivotal in resource mobilization to assist households affected by the outbreak asserts that the level of stigma and discrimination in the District is appalling and rallied all stakeholders to unite against the vice.

//Cue in; “We need to…

Cue out…avoid stigma.”//

Several other heads of department have tested positive prompting the District leaders to limit access to the district offices by the public. Gloria Aloyo, the District Communication Officer says they have as well scaled-down the workforce to limit the number of staff in the office.

She said; “We, therefore, request that only very important issues are brought to the District and we advise the general public to use the services of the Lower Local Governments where applicable.” 

Yoweri Idiba, the District Health Officer – DHO, says all staff have had their samples taken and are awaiting the results from Uganda Virus Research Institute, Entebbe by the end of the week.

Idiba added that the District Task Force has set up a very strong psycho-social support team to provide counselling to COVID-19 patients, their caregivers, families and members of the community where they come from.