Nurses in Norton Face Stigmatisation

Staff Reporter

COVID-19 has shaken the whole world and affected ailing economies.
Zimbabwe has not been spared by the impact of the deadly virus and the impact is being felt by ordinary people in communities and frontline health workers the most.

Government introduced measures that are meant to combat COVID -19 and reduce the chances of more infections in the country. These measures have also seen the ban of private operators transport hence all essential services including nurses have resorted to public transport in the form of ZUPCO buses as primary means of transportation to and from work.

A nurse screening for Covid-19 at the entrance of a local hospital in Harare

With limited public transportation worrying social issues have risen against nurses in Norton town. A number of nurses have been facing extra transport challenges due to stigmatisation from residents who are accusing the frontline workers of spreading COVID -19 in communities. The current COVID-19 outbreak has provoked social stigma and discriminatory behaviours against people of certain ethnic backgrounds as well as anyone perceived to have been in contact with the virus

“ZUPCO buses are not reliable when going to work and nowadays it is hard to find a private car because residents feel that we are spreading COVID-19” said Nesta Chihwa a nurse from Norton.

“We are appealing to our employer to provide us with transport that is only meant for health workers because people no-longer want to share even a seat with us when we are wearing our uniforms” echoed another nurse from the same town, Cyprain Muzvimba.

When contacted for comment Zimbabwe Nurses Association Secretary General Enock Dongo had this to say, “Government must provide transport for nurses who will be on duty, stigmatisation of health workers is very disturbing”

Social stigma in the context of health is the negative association between a person or group of people who share certain characteristics and a specific disease. In an outbreak, this may mean people are labelled, stereotyped, discriminated against, treated separately, and/or experience loss of status because of a perceived link with a disease. Such treatment can negatively affect those with the disease, as well as their caregivers, family, friends and communities. People who don’t have the disease but share other characteristics with this group may also suffer from stigma. [WHO]

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