By CHR | 11:56 PM May 14, 2021
Public health policies on containing the spread of coronavirus in any locality in the Philippines must never compromise the human rights of individuals.
A recent report in Ozamiz City cites that at least 100 houses of residents who tested positive to Covid-19 and who are close contacts were marked with caution tapes by the local health officials.
The Commission on Human Rights reminds the government that overt labeling of individuals or groups of people affected by the disease exposes them to possible discriminatory treatment and other negative associations.
While we recognise the good intention of the ordinance, we urge the local officials to be mindful of the social stigmatisation that may result from such practice.
Apart from undermining the social cohesion in the community, it may discourage other individuals to report the illness and not seek healthcare immediately to avoid discrimination. Instead of instilling stigma and fear around the communicable disease, what works best is building trust in reliable health services, showing compassion and providing humanitarian assistance to those affected, and adopting practical measures to keep themselves and loved ones safe.
Open, honest, and effective communication of concrete steps in combatting the pandemic is a crucial step in creating a safe environment to dialogue about the Covid-19 situation, and to enlist the cooperation of people to actively report cases while contributing in the containment of the virus.