The need to combat stigmatizing dogmas in the midst of the novel coronavirus disease (nCOVID-19) pandemic

  • Anthonio Adefuye Division of Health Sciences Education, Office of the Dean, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Free State, Bloemfontein, South Africa.
  • Markes Butler Free State Provincial Disaster Management Centre, Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Free State Province, South Africa.
  • Henry Adeola | Department of Dermatology, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Cape Town, South Africa.


Stigmatization is a putative structural barrier to health-seeking behaviour, and radical education of the populace is crucial to ameliorate its detrimental effects. Even before the classic work of Erving Goffman in 1963 on the social psychology of stigma, the practice of fear and avoidance because of the presence of a disease, in particular infectious diseases and in some cases non-infectious disease has been in existence in many societies. Similarly, infectious disease stigmatization – a standardized image of the disgrace of certain people that is held in common by community at large, on account of being ill by an infectious disease – has co-existed with human nature both in the pre- and post-modern era. At present, the ongoing novel coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has created fear and anxiety in many communities globally and this has led to the widespread resurgence of social stigmatization. Instances of prejudice, racial discrimination, the rise of anti-foreigner sentiments and the blaming of certain groups of people for the spread of COVID-19 has been documented in many parts of the world [...].



PlumX Metrics


Download data is not yet available.


Goffman E. Stigma: Notes on the Management of Spoiled Identity. London: Penguin Group; 1963.

Dadun D, Van Brakel WH, Peters RM, Lusli M, Zweekhorst M, Bunders J. Impact of socio-economic development, contact and peer counselling on stigma against persons affected by leprosy in Cirebon, Indonesia–a randomised controlled trial. Lepr Rev. 2017;88(1):2-22.

Baker GA, Brooks J, Buck D, Jacoby A. The stigma of epilepsy: a European perspective. Epilepsia. 2000;41(1):98-104.

Smith RA. Language of the lost: An explication of stigma communication. Communication Theory. 2007;17(4):462-85.

Smith RA, Hughes D. Infectious disease stigmas: Maladaptive in modern society. Communication studies. 2014;65(2):132-8.

Devakumar D, Shannon G, Bhopal SS, Abubakar I. Racism and discrimination in COVID-19 responses. The Lancet. 2020;395(10231):1194.

Chen HA, Trinh J, Yang GP. Anti-Asian sentiment in the United States–COVID-19 and history. American Journal of Surgery. 2020.

Senzo Ngubane, Matambo R, Nkosi S. COVID-19 and stigmatisation and discrimination 2020 [5 May 2020]. Available from:

Ehrlich H, McKenney M, Elkbuli A. Protecting our healthcare workers during the COVID-19 pandemic. The American Journal of Emergency Medicine. 2020.

Cox CL. ‘Healthcare Heroes’: problems with media focus on heroism from healthcare workers during the COVID-19 pandemic. Journal of medical ethics. 2020.

Dubey S, Biswas P, Ghosh R, Chatterjee S, Dubey MJ, Chatterjee S, et al. Psychosocial impact of COVID-19. Diabetes & Metabolic Syndrome: Clinical Research & Reviews. 2020.

Bagcchi S. Stigma during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Lancet Infectious Diseases. 2020;20(7):782.

Singh R, Subedi M. COVID-19 and Stigma: Social discrimination towards frontline healthcare providers and COVID-19 recovered patients in Nepal. Asian journal of psychiatry. 2020.

Sahoo S, Mehra A, Suri V, Malhotra P, Yaddanapudi N, Puri G, et al. Lived experiences of the Corona Survivors (patients admitted in COVID wards): A Narrative real-life documented summaries of internalized guilt, shame, stigma, anger. Asian Journal of Psychiatry. 2020.

Letters to the Editors
COVID-19, Stigma, health-seeing behaviour, access to healthcare, health education
  • Abstract views: 1148

  • PDF: 369
How to Cite
Adefuye, A., Butler, M., & Adeola, H. (2020). The need to combat stigmatizing dogmas in the midst of the novel coronavirus disease (nCOVID-19) pandemic. Journal of Public Health in Africa.