KMA raises concern over ‘stigmatisation’ of COVID-19 patients

Tuesday, April 14th, 2020 16:10 |
KMA president Dr. Jacqueline Kitulu

Doctors have raised an alarm over increased stigmatisation of COVID-19 patients and called for paradigm shift on reporting of persons who have symptoms or contracted the disease.

Under the banner of Kenya Medical Association (KMA), the medics want the communication on coronavirus to shift away from asking people to report ‘suspects’ as if they are criminals, to encouraging people to come forward in case they have had contact with someone with COVID-19 or have symptoms of the disease so that they receive adequate testing and care.

“The message of social responsibility and solidarity must be emphasized, and methods to trace contacts and patients must not be unnecessarily punitive,” the association president Dr. Jacqueline Kitulu said in a press statement on Tuesday.

The association also wants clarity around quarantine and management of hotel costs during this period, given that there have been challenges around what happens to people who have been tested and their results take a few days to come back.

“KMA recommends that government covers quarantine costs for such persons should they need to wait overnight or longer for results, in order to avoid sending them home and then spending resources tracking them down to communicate the results,” Dr. Kitulu observed.

However, the association has faulted the government for putting a lot of emphasis on acquiring ventilators rather than important critical care equipment as PPEs.

They now want the government to prioritise increasing testing capacity, protection of health workers, and management of mild to moderate illness in order to reduce disease severity that would require more critical care.

“As testing and treatment capacity is increased, we urge government to ensure that human resource capacity is also increased, and the hiring of new health workers must be fast-tracked,” the doctors association noted

“We urge all decision-makers to ensure that medical experts are involved in setting priorities even if the decisions are being made in an expedited manner; the KMA COVID-19 Response Advisory Committee stands ready to provide this expertise when requested.”

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