As cases of COVID-19 find a new hunting ground in urban slums in India, addressing denial and stigma among slum communities towards testing is a new challenge. In some slum areas residents put up a defense to reinforce the absence of any cases in the area. In support of their denial, they walked out in the lane without wearing masks nor maintained physical distancing. Their false brave acts and defiant body language prevented UHRC mentored women’s group members from making any effort to help the basti families overcome denial.
We learnt of a positive example where slum dwellers overcame stigma. In one basti, 26 year old Ratna, a UHRC trained active Urban ASHA (Accredited Social Health Activist) was able to motivate families which had the first 2-3 COVID-19 positive cases to not consider the infection as stigma. She encouraged their family members and neighbours to get tested. She proactively visited the houses, and families in the vicinity and confidently encouraged them to go in for COVID-19 testing. Ratna, the Urban ASHA urged the Health Department team to visit and test family members and neighbours of those who initially tested positive. Eventually 18-20 people were tested positive within the neighborhood. Through these efforts basti dwellers were able to act in an informed way and overcome their fears. Most people in the neighborhood wore masks to prevent them from spreading the infection and from acquiring it.
Ratna’s confidence comes from her mother who herself has been an active women’s group member. Ratna has also been involved with UHRC’s training and outreach work since she was an adolescent.
Ratna motivating families to get themselves tested
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