- Faith leaders expressed concerns over stigmatisation of healthcare workers
- Misinformation are being spread through different mediums: Faith Leaders
- Faith leaders must come forward to create awareness: Expert
Guwahati: Leaders of different religious communities of Assam on Thursday jointly appealed to the people to fight against stigmatisation of healthcare workers engaged in treating coronavirus patients and those suspected to have contracted the disease. Over 50 faith leaders asked people not to stigmatise frontline workers, people with COVID-19 symptoms, those who have been quarantined, and stranded residents who are returning to Assam from other states. Mufti Nasihur Rehman, popularly known as “Swachh Maulana” because of his penchant for sanitation and hygiene, Vaishnav monastery (Satra) head Pranav Pran Gowasmi, Brahmakumari Rajyog Seva Kendras Sister Sonam and representatives of other faiths made the appeal during a webinar.
They suggested actions such as counselling and awareness drive to combat stigmatisation of healthcare workers treating people infected with COVID-19 and suspected patients. The faith leaders also asserted that they can play a crucial role in spreading positive messages among leaders of their own faith and others, and by using festivals, their networks and media channels to spread mass awareness on COVID-19. Speaking on the occasion, Assam Commissioner for Persons with Disabilities Kausar Hilaly highlighted the Assam government’s collaborative response to address disruptions in routine services, the importance of social cohesion and right messaging in the time of this pandemic. He said,
There are fear and anxiety among communities regarding the virus. However, that is also stemming from misinformation and rumours being spread through different mediums.
The webinar, organised by Sphere India, an NGO, in collaboration with UNICEF and WHO, was the first of two such programmes being held to sensitise leaders and deliberate on actions that need to be taken to address social issues stemming from COVID-19 pandemic.
UNICEF Chief of Field Office, Assam, Dr Madhulika Jonathan, emphasised the need to create space to deliberate on the role of faith leaders in addressing the secondary impact of the COVID-19 crisis on vulnerable communities, especially women and children. She said,
There is a need for a larger dialogue with the government for a state-level Interfaith Alliance working specifically in support of equity issues. Our values and beliefs are very similar to those of faith communities.
WHO India’s representative Dr Ritu Chauhan also spoke on the role of faith leaders in amplifying positive messaging. She said,
Faith leaders must come forward to create awareness in the communities to trust a credible source of information and promote preventive measures in fighting COVID-19. The idea is to fight the disease and not those suffering from it.
Sphere India’s CEO Vikrant Mahajan said that in these testing times, the role of faith-based organizations, civil society and religious leaders is vital in bringing communities together in a shared and unified response.