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Coronavirus: Stigma more lethal for victims, celebrity get preferential treatment, commoners suffer

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Shams Ur Rehman Alavi

BHOPAL: The stigma that Coronavirus has brought, is turning more lethal than the virus itself.

If a prominent person, celebrity or leader gets Corona, there is instant wave of sympathy & support, people pray for them, the person is immediately taken to hospital.

But common citizen face stigma, prejudices and difficulty in even getting treatment. In fact, for commoners, trouble begins from how to get tested, where to go for treatment, obtaining bed, ventilator, cost of treatment, innumerable issues. Ambulance may not come immediately, as reports from different regions indicate.

Plus, kin suffer a lot as the resident welfare assocaitions (RWAs) issue diktats that bring an ordeal to the family of the Coronavirus patient. It is this societal attitude, which is worrying. Patient needs societal support, empathy, not discrimination and mistreatment. But this reflects double standards in the society.

Due to stigma, there is tremendous fear, the feeling of helplessness that overcomes the patient. When someone feels totally ostracized, this worsens the patient's situation. There must not be different parameters, neither in our attitude towards patient, nor in healthcare.

Imagine how a citizen has to battle the 'systems', get himself admitted, deal with issues in the society. This shock, fear and panic  worsens the patient's situation. I remember a case in another state where a person had gone to lab (or hospital), all by himself, he seemed okay, but there he got report that he was 'positive', the auto wala left him, he didn't get ambulance.

In a state of panic, he fell unconscious. No one touched him for hours, he was later found dead. Apparently, his condition was not that bad till a few hours ago, but this panic may have caused heart attack and sudden death. This incident had occurred in Sattenapalle in Guntur, Andhra Pradesh and the video had gone viral.

The need of the hour is to change our attitudes, end stigma, ensure proper systems are in place. Make people aware that if they suffer from a condition, this is the place to go, that there is no need to panic, you will get ambulance, bed and treatment, without delay. This is the most basic protocol and at least this can be ensured.

Photo: Faisal Mateen

Shams Ur Rehman Alavi

Journalist for more than 20 years. Had started his career with National Mail in the nineties. Worked as Special Correspondent with Hindustan Times, as an Assistant Editor with DB Post, later Contributing Editor with The Huffington Post, writes for First Post, The Wire, Newsd & several other major publications.