Nigeria's Borno State grapples with Covid-19 stigma

A man in a traditional canoe in Nigeria, where people living in the Borno State do not want to reveal when they are sick 'because their neighbours will immediately think it is Covid-19'.
A man in a traditional canoe in Nigeria, where people living in the Borno State do not want to reveal when they are sick 'because their neighbours will immediately think it is Covid-19'.
Image: REUTERS/Temilade Adelaja

Members of a community in the northeast of Nigeria fear seeking medical treatment as concerns over the social stigma attached to Covid-19 increase, reports SBS News.

Daily life in Maiduguri, the capital of Borno State, relies on social gatherings in homes and places of worship, cultural norms that have been disrupted by the coronavirus pandemic.

“People don’t want to say they are sick because their neighbours will immediately think it is Covid-19,” said Dr Sanda, who works on the health team of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).

“Every disease carries shame and fear, but diseases with no known cure are especially stigmatised. This fear is heightened by low levels of trust in health-care facilities,” said Sanda.

The Nigerian government is taking steps to address stigma with initiatives launched by Nigeria’s Centre for Disease Control, the ICRC and the Nigerian Red Cross Society to encourage people with symptoms to receive treatment.


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