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The Real Test: Lebanon's anti-stigma campaign

07.07.2020 / Created by ARCGE
The Real Test: Lebanon's anti-stigma campaign

The Ministry of Public Health (MOPH) through the National Mental Health Programme, ABAAD, United Nations Development Programme, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), UNICEF and the World Health Organization joined forces together to break the stigma associated with the novel corona virus (COVID-19). Under the slogan “#TheRealTest”, a national campaign was launched on several TV outlets with a synchronized introduction of primetime news and on social media.

Quarantine, social and physical distancing, lockdown, testing positive and many other terms have undoubtedly infiltrated people’s minds around the globe. As the virus continues to be a present reality, it has caused fear across continents. This fear has also provoked social stigma and discriminatory behaviours against anyone perceived to have been exposed to the virus. Stigma is defined as a negative association linked to a person or a group of persons who might share certain characteristics or a certain disease, in this case, the coronavirus. This means that people are being labelled, stereotyped and subject to discrimination because of a potential exposure to the virus. Stigma and discrimination can make an already stressful situation far more difficult and detrimental to the mental health of affected persons and their families.

Yet, the stigma surrounding COVID-19 has not only been damaging to those with the disease, but also to their families and friends as well as to society’s cohesion and effort to curb the outbreak by preventing people who exhibit the symptoms to seek care in the first place for fear of being subject to discrimination. “With millions of people around the globe hit by COVID-19, it is safe to say that the virus itself does not discriminate. However, the social stigma associated with the coronavirus disease is particularly affecting women and girls, especially in vulnerable communities, causing them to hide the illness and avoid seeking health care, to avoid discrimination & risk of violence & femicide. We must take into account specificity of those affected in emergency response planning and create a protective containing environment in which both the disease and its impact can be discussed and addressed openly” said Ghida Anani, Founder & Director of ABAAD.

Full press release: https://www.abaadmena.org/documents/ebook.1593597838.pdf

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