The nationwide lockdown and Pandemic have created havoc in the society with thousands of people being affected and hundreds of being died every new day. The situation has been even worse for the ethnic minority communities in India. Long-standing systemic healthcare available and social inequities have placed the people belonging to racial and minority groups at increased risk of getting COVID-19.
Maharashtra is the state with the highest cases recorded 548 deaths as of May 3 and out of these 239 (44%) belongs to minority Muslim Community almost contributing thrice their distribution in the state’s population, sprawling Dharavi slum has become the country’s worst-hit virus hotspot, authorities say Muslims are afraid to self-report. This induced the state epidemiology department to plan to issue COVID awareness messages in Urdu in select hotspots and roping in local religious leaders for outreach. According to the epidemiologist Pradeep Awate, more cases have been reported among lower socioeconomic strata. He stated, “The cases are spreading in slums not because of a particular religious group, but because of poor living conditions. And in the slums, Muslims are in large numbers. At least 8-10 people live in a small room where social distancing is difficult,”
Though doctors who studied previous epidemics warn that stigma and blame for a contagious disease weaken trust in marginalized communities, threatening decades-long efforts against illnesses such as polio and tuberculosis by making people less likely to seek treatment. Kiran Dighavkar, an assistant commissioner at the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai said, “There is a lot fear in the Muslim community and they are not telling us facts,”
People from minority groups may not receive care because of the dubiety of the healthcare system, language barriers and fear of getting misjudged. Therefore, addressing the needs of these populations in emergencies includes empowering and encouraging individuals and communities to take appropriate action to prevent the spread of COVID-19, attentiveness for those who become sick, and help community members cope with stress and anxiety.
Therefore, it has become even more important for people to be compassionate, empathetic, and sensitive towards each other and acknowledging the needs of the people belonging to minority groups, and Maharashtra’s plan of drafting COVID related messages in Urdu is indeed a splendid step.
- Barnagarwala,T (2020)mMinority surge in Covid deaths, Maharashtra plans messages in Urdu. Retrieved from: https://indianexpress.com/article/india/maharashtra-covid-deaths-urdu-awareness-messages-6397588/
- Naqvi, M., & Trivedi, U. (2020, April 24). A new wave of Anti-Muslim Anger Threatens India’s Virus Fight. Retrieved from: https://www.bloombergquint.com/politics/a-new-wave-of-anti-muslim-anger-threatens-india-s-virus-fight Copyright © BloombergQuint
- Minority surge in Covid deaths, Maharashtra plans messages in Urdu: Study (2020). Retrieved from: https://www.justicenews.co.in/minority-surge-in-covid-deaths-maharashtra-plans-messages-in-urdu/
- Minority surge in Covid deaths, Maharashtra plans messages in Urdu: Study (2020).
Retrieved from: https://www.opindia.com/2020/05/muslim-cases-surge-maharashtra-ropes-mosques-imams-coronavirus-messages-urdu/
- As Muslims Face Stigma and Blame for Surge in Infections, India’s Coronavirus Fight Weakens: Study (2020). Retrieved from: https://www.news18.com/news/india/as-muslims-face-stigma-and-blame-for-surge-in-infections-indias-coronavirus-fight-weakens-2592251.html