Union Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan has directed authorities of All India Institute Medical Sciences (AIIMS) and other premier medical institutions to take proactive measures to combat COVID-19 in their respective states, and create awareness among the society that there should be no stigma related to COVID-19 patients and frontline healthcare workers.
Dr Vardhan chaired a video conference with medical directors of AIIMS (Delhi), regional AIIMS, Jawaharlal Institute of Postgraduate Medical Education and Research (JIPMER) Puducherry and Post Graduate Institute (PGI) Chandigarh to review the preparedness on coronavirus.
Talking to Media, Dr Vadhan said, “Today (Monday), I have spoken to medical directors of all AIIMS and JIPMER Puducherry and PGI Chandigarh to assess their planning and strategy for COVID-19, how they are undertaking patient care, requirements for equipment and their planning for future.”
“I have asked them two important things — to take proactive leadership to combat this (COVID-19) disease in their respective states and to aware people on stigma related to recovered patients and doctors who are deputed for coronavirus treatment,” he said.
A senior official said that AIIMS, Delhi has specially been asked to create awareness material for people on stigma-related issues on coronavirus. “AIIMS, Delhi has to take key steps to counsel people on stigma against patients and healthcare workers,” the official said.
Recently, Dr Randeep Guleria, Director of AIIMS also highlighted how stigma related to COVID-19 is posing another challenge. He conveyed that recovered patients are “a symbol of hope and victory to us and that they should not be stigmatised.”
“Due to stigma, many patients who have underlying health conditions and developing mild flu-like symptoms are not contacting the authorities to get the COVID-19 test done, which might create another potential threat to the higher mortality rate and co-morbidity,” he said.
According to the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, there are 28,380 COVID-19 cases in India, including 6,362 cured/discharged/migrated and 886 deaths.