Statement of CHR Commissioner, Karen Gomez-Dumpit, on the discrimination committed against individuals who are associated with COVID-19

Statement of CHR Commissioner, Karen Gomez-Dumpit, on the discrimination committed against individuals who are associated with COVID-19

The Commission on Human Rights condemns all acts of discrimination committed against individuals who are associated with COVID-19 disease. These individuals include the medical front liners, persons suspected of being infected and those found to be COVID 19 positive.

As the country continues to battle the spread of this highly contagious disease, it becomes apparent that there are people who causes additional suffering for those associated with the disease. There are reports that people diagnosed with the disease are subjected to stigma and discrimination. These acts include social avoidance or rejection, denial of healthcare, education and employment and worse, subjected to physical violence. These acts produce negative influence on health behaviors and have a range of physical and mental health consequences for the stigmatized groups and communities around them.

Stigma and discrimination are also counterproductive because people associated with the disease might not be motivated to seek medical attention. This in turn will cause harm to themselves because eventually, it will be too late if they come forward for treatment at an advanced stage of infection. Not being able to control human contact will also bring harm to those around him and the community.

Protecting human rights can help address these public health concerns, by requiring, for example, that proactive measures such as ensuring accurate information is made available and that stigmatizing and discriminatory behavior and practices are identified and stopped.

The Commission enjoins public health and government officials to maintain the privacy and confidentiality of those seeking healthcare and those who may be part of contact investigation. Ensure that proper education about COVID 19 are given without increasing fear among the people. Communicate the risks or lack of risks from associations with products, people and places. Share accurate information about how the virus spreads.

At the same time, we should all speak out against the negative behaviors or statements about groups of people, or exclusion of people who pose no risk or harm. Images being shared should also not reinforce stereotypes. Finally, we should be able to continue to respect the rights and dignity of everyone, regardless of their physical, mental or social condition. ###