KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 12 –The Ministry of Health (MOH) constantly provides information to the public to overcome the stigma against COVID-19 patients, former patients and their families.
Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Adham Baba said dissemination of the information was made through television and radio, as well as video on the spread of COVID-19 and the risk of infection for COVID-19 patients who recovered from the illness.
“This is done to provide better understanding on COVID-19, that the risk of infection is low, to avoid stigma against the patients and their families,” he said in a written reply during the Ministers’ Question Time in the Dewan Rakyat today.
He was responding to a question from Datuk Mohd Nizar Zakaria (UMNO-Parit) who wanted to know efforts made by the Health Ministry to eliminate the stigma against former COVID-19 patients and the long-term impact of the stigma on the emotions of the individuals involved.
Dr Adham said the ministry also distributes infographics through the MOH’s portal and Facebook to make the community realise that the stigma could hurt the feelings of the affected persons.
He said there is also the Psychosocial Support Line Assistance, carried out by the ministry, with the cooperation of government agencies and non-governmental organisations (NGOs), to provide information and emotional support to callers who are afraid of being infected by COVID-19 through family members or close contacts who had been confirmed positive with the virus.
“MOH also provides emotional support to patients and families at all health facilities that provide treatment for COVID-19 patients by having counselling sessions, psychological interventions and various other simple therapies, such as art therapy, respiratory relaxation therapy and mental health screening.
“Early psychological help is also given to relevant individuals if their emotional state is unstable or in a state of emotional crisis,” he added.
Dr Adham said among the long-term impacts on individuals experiencing the effects of stigma included depression, having low level of resilience; sensitive; lack of focus; inferiority complex that could lead to various mental health, thus affecting their life.
The condition will directly affect the physical health of the persons concerned, such as somatic symptoms, fatigue and headache.