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Protect privacy to counter COVID-19 discrimination

Graphic: Commissioner Karen Gomez-Dumpit

The CHR has received reports of people diagnosed with the virus being subjected to stigma and discrimination.

The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) has called on public health and government officials to maintain the privacy of individuals seeking healthcare for COVID-19 and those who are part of its COVID-19 contact tracing efforts.

Commissioner Karen Gomez-Dumpit said in a statement that the CHR had received reports of people diagnosed with the virus being subjected to stigma and discrimination.

Medical frontline workers and persons suspected of being COVID 19 positive had also been targeted, she added.

"These acts include social avoidance or rejection, denial of healthcare, education and employment and, worse, being subjected to physical violence," Commissioner Gomez-Dumpit said.

"Stigma and discrimination are also counterproductive because people associated with the disease might not be motivated to seek medical attention."

In addition to maintaining the privacy and confidentiality of those seeking healthcare and those who may be part of contact tracing investigation, the CHR said government and health officials should:

  • Ensure there is fact-based education about COVID 19 to address anxiety and fear in the community
  • Communicate the risks and lack of risks from associating with products, people and places
  • Share accurate information about how the virus spreads.

"At the same time, we should all speak out against negative behaviours or statements about groups of people, or exclusion of people who pose no risk or harm," Commissioner Gomez-Dumpit said.

Date: 15 May 2020

Source: Commission on Human Rights


Image credits

  1. Commissioner Karen Gomez-Dumpit - Commission on Human Rights of the Philippines