Saturday, 6 March, 2021
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EDITORIAL

A Flawed Perception



The entire world has been battling COVID-19 ever since the pandemic emerged some eight months ago. Doctors and other health workers have been at the frontline to deal with this global public health emergency. Though more than 800,000 people have so far lost their lives to the deadly virus disease, many lives have been saved, thanks to the dedicated efforts of the frontline healthcare providers. The problem is aggravating globally as both infections and deaths are rising dreadfully. There is no doubt that the healthcare workers are key players for fighting the contagion. But they are often found facing various challenges such as stigma and discrimination at workplace and in the surroundings. Health workers in Nepal, too, are now reeling from a number of problems including social discrimination. With the rise in the number of virus infections and fatalities, they are under excessive pressure. This may put them at high risk of psychological problems as well.
It is worrying that some nurses and doctors in Chitwan, who have tested positive for COVID-19, have already started experiencing harassments in the society. According to a news report carried by this daily on Sunday, staff nurses and doctors lamented that their neighbours and community members had begun mistreating them and their families after they got diagnosed with COVID-19. In spite of tremendous pressure on them to quit the profession from their families following the spread of the virus disease in the country, they have kept on serving the patients. They have felt that it was their responsibility to battle the pandemic. They had thought that they might contract the disease one day as they have to take care of the coronavirus patients. Similarly, another doctor, who served at Ratnanagar Hospital, has described how his neighbours had begun shunning and dejecting him after he was diagnosed with the virus disease.
The news report has it that the community people even labelled the doctor's house a 'corona-infected home' and stuck a poster outside it. Through social media, he has asked the community members to stop such demoralising acts. This indicates that the community people still have a totally negative perception of the coronavirus patients and their families. Naturally, such activities are quite shocking for the doctor. However, he has pledged to give plasma to those who have socially discriminated him and his family if they are diagnosed with the disease. Anyone can get infected with this contagion as it is transmitting fast. In Chitwan alone, about three dozen health workers have been infected with the virus as of Friday. More others are likely to be infected as the number of COVID-19 cases has already exceeded 300 in the district.
Instead of mistreating the health workers, it is everyone's responsibility to help boost their confidence and morale in this time of pandemic. The patients can get proper care and treatment only when the health workers have high level of confidence and motivation. It is necessary to disseminate precise information concerning the pandemic to the people for foiling the stigma attached to COVID-19. It is the accurate information that may play an important role in creating a congenial environment to make appropriate decisions on combating the contagion. The flow of such information alone can help bring about changes in the community's perception about this public health crisis. 

How do you feel after reading this news?