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Sidhu Launches Awareness Campaign to Remove Stigma & discrimination associated with COVID-19

Chandigarh, (Gurpreet) : Amid this COVID-19 scenario when Punjab Government is in the process of controlling the spread of this disease, the health department is facing new challenges across the State. There is a growing stigma and discrimination associated with this disease, which needs to be immediately addressed. It was disclosed by the Health Minister Mr. Balbir Singh Sidhu today while launching an awareness campaign through a zoom meeting in which Medical Officers, District Mass Media Officers, Block Extension Educators, Multi-Purpose Health Supervisors & ASHAs were sensitized.

            Mr. Sidhu said that this campaign would jointly be conducted by Punjab Government in collaboration with United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) India and WHO. besides counselling, it is necessary that reliable and accurate information regarding COVID-19 should be provided to all corona positive patients so that they may not fall for misinformation. He said that this campaign would provide relief to the patients who are suffering from mental stress along with COVID-19.

            The Minister said that rumours are being circulated by some miscreants and people should not believe such rumours and strict action would be dealt with strictly. He also expressed sympathy with the corona warriors who laid down their lives while fighting this pandemic. He appealed people to follow COVID appropriate behaviour.

            Divulging more about the campaign Dr. Manisha Mandal  State Project Officer of UNDP Punjab said that ever since this disease was declared as a pandemic and was discovered to be highly contagious. The general public was made aware to use precautionary measures to avoid this pandemic and various researches have shown that taking basic precautions like wearing masks, washing hands frequently and maintaining social distancing are quite effective in stopping its spread. But seeing the number of fatalities in other countries due to COVID-19, people got into a panic and a fear psychosis has been created in their minds, which is a stumbling block in controlling this disease.

            She said that there is a lot of misinformation in the field due to some lack of knowledge. These were the basic reasons that such a campaign was required to dispel any stigma associated with this disease.

            National Professional Officer, Mental Health & Drug Abuse, WHO India Dr. Attreya Ganguli and National Programme Manager, Health & Governance unit, UNDP India Dr. Chiranjeev Bhattacharya stressed on the need of COVID appropriate behaviour in these times to control the spread of this disease such as greet from a distance, wearing mask at all times, maintaining physical distance, avoid touching your eyes-nose and mouth, avoiding unnecessary travel etc. They also called upon the staff to counsel the corona positive persons, their family members and their neighbours to end the stigma attached with this disease.

            Dr. Arvider Singh Gill, Deputy Director, COVID-19 emphasised on the role of Mass Education and Media wing of the health department in sensitizing the people. He also said that employees of this wing are already doing good work in sensitizing the general public to follow COVID appropriate behaviour and in this new campaign they are expected to put an end to the stigma and discrimination attached with this disease and they should spread the slogan 'Together with COVID'.

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