Indian Journal of Social Psychiatry

BRIEF COMMUNICATION
Year
: 2021  |  Volume : 37  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 111--112

Safeguarding human rights: An indispensable component of the COVID-19 emergency response


Saurabh RamBihariLal Shrivastava1, Prateek Saurabh Shrivastava2,  
1 Department of Community Medicine, Member of the Medical Education Unit and Institute Research Council, Shri Sathya Sai Medical College and Research Institute, Sri Balaji Vidyapeeth – Deemed to be University, Ammapettai, Nellikuppam, Chengalpet District, Tamil Nadu, India
2 Department of Community Medicine, Shri Sathya Sai Medical College and Research Institute, Sri Balaji Vidyapeeth – Deemed to be University, Ammapettai, Nellikuppam, Chengalpet District, Tamil Nadu, India

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Saurabh RamBihariLal Shrivastava
Professor, Department of Community Medicine, Shri Sathya Sai Medical College and Research Institute, Sri Balaji Vidyapeeth (SBV) . Deemed to be University, Tiruporur - Guduvancherry Main Road, Ammapettai, Nellikuppam, Chengalpaet District - 603 108, Tamil Nadu
India

Abstract

In the ongoing battle against the Corona Virus Disease-2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, it is very important that the national leaders and health authorities must take appropriate measures to maintain an equilibrium between safeguarding the health, minimizing socioeconomic disruption, and protecting human rights of all the sections of the community. It is really a sad fact that the people who have been infected with the novel infection have been subjected to stigma and discrimination. As many nations have resorted to restriction of movements of the citizens, the girls and women are the most affected as their sexual and reproductive health needs are not being met, and in other words, these restrictions have aided in the violation of their human rights. In conclusion, the political leaders should understand the gravity of the situation and ensure that the human rights of all the sections of the society are given due importance by means of adoption of a comprehensive approach. In fact, safeguarding the human rights of the people is an important domain of the emergency public health response, and we all should not encourage discrimination of any kind against anyone.



How to cite this article:
Shrivastava SR, Shrivastava PS. Safeguarding human rights: An indispensable component of the COVID-19 emergency response.Indian J Soc Psychiatry 2021;37:111-112


How to cite this URL:
Shrivastava SR, Shrivastava PS. Safeguarding human rights: An indispensable component of the COVID-19 emergency response. Indian J Soc Psychiatry [serial online] 2021 [cited 2021 Oct 28 ];37:111-112
Available from: https://www.indjsp.org/text.asp?2021/37/1/111/312880


Full Text



 Introduction



In the ongoing battle against the Corona Virus Disease-2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, it is very important that the national leaders and health authorities must take appropriate measures to maintain an equilibrium between safeguarding the health, minimizing socioeconomic disruption, and protecting human rights of all the sections of the community.[1] As of now, a total of 6,931,000 cases and 400,857 deaths have been attributed to the novel viral infection, which takes the overall case fatality rate to 5.8%.[2] In these difficult times, there is an immense need to merge the public health response with the basic human rights while responding to the various public health concerns arising due to the infection.[1]

 Corona Virus Disease-2019 and Rights of Vulnerable People



Considering that the vulnerable population groups (such as migrants, refugees, poor socioeconomic status and differently abled) are more vulnerable to acquire the infection, it is essential that their fundamental rights are not violated and they should also be in a position to receive the best possible care and supportive services.[1] It is really a sad fact that the people who have been infected with the novel infection have been subjected to stigma and discrimination, which is not at all correct. In fact, this discrimination has gone beyond, and people of Asian descent have also been targeted just because the virus originated in an Asian nation. Further, even the health-care professionals or police who are actively involved in delivering care after compromising their own safety have been subjected to such forms of irrational behaviors.[3]

These kinds of behaviors are really traumatizing and tend to leave long-term social and mental imprints on the people who have been discriminated.[3] As many nations have resorted to restriction of movements of the citizens, the girls and women are the most affected as their sexual and reproductive health needs are not being met, and in other words, these restrictions have aided in the violation of their human rights.[4] Moreover, reports of a rise in the incidence of all forms of violence and abuse have been reported against women and girls during this period.

 Need of the hour



There is an immense need for the health sector to take urgent steps to minimize the harms resulting because of violence and ensure that supportive services are made available to the affected individuals.[4] Further, in an attempt to minimize the risk of transmission, all the contacts of the case and travelers returning from those regions with a positive history of cases have been subjected to a mandatory quarantine of 14 days. Even though it is a very useful measure, all steps should be taken to ensure that they are treated with dignity and none of their human rights are isolated during their period of stay.[1]

It is our moral duty to ensure the safety of all the health-care professionals who are involved in the patient care by providing them with appropriate personal equipment and safe workplace environment. However, due to the sudden rise in the number of cases and irrational usage of the equipment, the supply of these logistics has gone in immense shortage worldwide.[5] It is unethical to expose health professionals to the risk of infection without providing them with adequate protective measures, and thus, the government should take all the essential steps to ensure an adequate and continuous supply of the equipment through better inventory management and imports if necessary.[5] Further, we have to take necessary steps to safeguard the vulnerable population groups (namely elderly and those with comorbidities) by instituting a triage mechanism in hospitals and giving them more priority. Any irregularity on our part will expose them to the risk of infection and will jeopardize the overall response.[1]

 Conclusion



The political leaders should understand the gravity of the situation and ensure that the human rights of all the sections of the society are given due importance by means of adoption of a comprehensive approach. In fact, safeguarding the human rights of the people is an important domain of the emergency public health response, and we all should not encourage discrimination of any kind against anyone.

Financial support and sponsorship

Nil.

Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

References

1World Health Organization. Addressing Human Rights as Key to the COVID-19 Response. Geneva: WHO Press; 2020. p. 1-3.
2World Health Organization. Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Situation Report – 140; 2020. Available from: https://www.who.int/docs/default-source/coronaviruse/situation-reports/20200608-covid-19-sitrep-140.pdf?sfvrsn=2f310900_2. [Last accessed on 2020 Jun 09].
3Devakumar D, Shannon G, Bhopal SS, Abubakar I. Racism and discrimination in COVID-19 responses. Lancet 2020;395:1194.
4Hussein J. COVID-19: What implications for sexual and reproductive health and rights globally? Sex Reprod Health Matters 2020;28:1746065.
5Mandrola J. CoViD-19 and PPE: Some of us will die because of the shortage. Recenti Prog Med 2020;111:183.