NICE In COVID-19 Stigma Elimination Campaign

By Grace Kapatuka

Salima, August 20, Mana. The National Initiative for Civic Education (NICE) Trust in Salima has embarked on an awareness campaign aimed at eliminating stigma on COVID-19 patients in the communities.

Speaking during a training of Community Civic Educators drawn from across the district, Salima District Civic Education Officer, Queen Mkwandawire, said the trust organized the training in order to equip the civic educators with necessary skills that will enable them conduct civic education on the elimination of stigma to COVID-19 suspects.

“By now we know that communities are aware of what COVID-19 is. Government as well as other partners have been disseminating such messages. However, we have observed that there is stigma taking place in the communities.”

“When people have realized that a member of the community has tested positive to the disease they start discriminating that person, so this training is to ensure that together with the civic educators we eliminate the malpractice,” she said.

Mkandawire said her office has received reports that some of the patients that tested positive to COVID-19 as well as their relatives are being stigmatized once they test positive and even after getting discharged, a development she described as bad.

“Testing positive to COVID-19 is not that you are cursed. People test positive and get healed so why should one stigmatize them as if they are not human beings? This has to stop,” she said.

She said it is for that reason that NICE is sensitising communities on the need to show love and incorporate COVID-19 patients back into the society.

According to Mkandawire, the trust will use all its civic educators in the district to conduct sensitisation across the district so that they reach out to many people with messages on stigma elimination.

One of the civic educators, Charles Sabawo, welcomed the initiative saying it will help bring back the lost love that communities had on one another before COVID came to Malawi.

Sabawo said together with other civic educators they will work tirelessly to ensure that the initiative bears good fruits.