Ghana

Addressing stigma against Covid-19 survivors in Ghana [EN/FR]

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Summary

Stigma against survivors of Covid-19 (and their families) has emerged as a major issue in Ghana, which in turn affects our response.

There exists widespread misconceptions and fear of people who have recovered from Covid-19, as they are believed to pose a health risk to others. Survivors of Covid-19 are widely avoided and stigmatized.

As a result, people with Covid-19 symptoms are often reluctant to be tested, for fear of being stigmatized if the result is positive.

To address stigma against Covid-19 survivors, Plan International Ghana collaborated with a local filmmaker and the Ministry of Health to produce a powerful video showing the harmful effects of stigma. The video can be viewed here.

This video is currently being shown widely on national television, on social media channels across the country and on Whatsapp. An audio version has been aired by an English-language radio station in the capital, Accra.

Background

Ghana’s borders have been closed since March 2020. The only exception to this relates to the repatriation of stranded Ghanaians, who are required to quarantine upon arrival.

Despite these measures, Ghana has experienced one of the highest case numbers of Covid-19 in the region, with most cases concentrated in the southern part of the country.

Stigma and discrimination against survivors of Covid-19 and their families (including children), has been widespread, as there remains a common belief and fear that those who have recovered remain infectious. People who present symptoms of Covid-19, as well as those who have tested for it (whether or not the result is positive), are frequently stigmatized. As a result, many people shy away from testing, calling an ambulance, or even visiting a health facility when they are ill, for fear of being associated with the condition.

This issue was frequently highlighted during weekly briefings from the Ministry of Health, where survivors (including influencers) were brought in to share their testimonies of the double burden they faced as stigmatized survivors of Covid-19.