COVID-19 and Stigma in Indonesia

The Social Contagion of Stigma in Indonesia

The Social Contagion of Stigma in Indonesia

Dr. Sudeepa Abeysinghe and Dr. Emily Adrion are leading a new project, in collaboration with INDOHUN/the University of Indonesia and Dr Ismail Fahmi (Media Kernals), in the Asia-Pacific region where COVID-19 patients, their families, and healthcare workers have faced stigma especially in many urban areas.  This project speaks directly to policy processes in Indonesia towards combatting stigmatization which is an impediment to public health responses. Stigmatisation of health workers has resulted in social rejection, housing losses, abuse, and discrimination. The social construction, and subsequent stigmatisation, of health workers as carriers of contagion could disrupt the medical response to Covid-19 and heighten the risks for health workers. This research asks: ‘What public narratives of risk and threat underpin the stigmatisation of health workers in Indonesia, and how can policy and communication strategies mitigate this stigmatisation.’

The project consists of three components: (i) an analysis of policy and evidence around stigma-mitigation (ii) an analysis of social media (Twitter) discourses that exacerbate the stigmatisation of health workers, (iii) a qualitative investigation of lay discourses of risky places and peoples to investigate the public understanding of risk that forms the basis for health worker-directed stigma.


Dr Sudeepa Abeysinghe

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