Mr Joseph Yieleh Chireh, MP for Wa West

Members of Parliament have warned that hiding information about COVID- 19 test will encourage stigmatization.

They argued that as an institution made up of leaders, Parliament must take the first step in ensuring it does not stigmatise anybody.

This follows voluntary testing organised by Parliament for legislators, staff and the media last week.

Reports following the process indicated some MPs and staff of Parliament have tested positive for the coronavirus but these where vehemently denied

Contributing to a statement on stigmatisation of COVID-19 patients, MP for Wa West Joseph Yieleh Chireh, expressed shock at the denial and warned such denial does not help anybody.

“It is not right. You can admit some people have tested positive without mentioning names.”

“But I do not even see the problem about mentioning the name because it is not a disease we should be afraid to be stigmatized,” he stated.

 Mr. Yieleh Chireh noted that even frontline health workers have indicated a number of them have tested positive and they received support of Ghanaians, “So why should it be different in Parliament,” he quizzed?

“I think that for us in Ghana to be able to fight this stigma we in leadership, whether parliament, executive or the judiciary should be an example for all of us and should be bold about it.”

Member for North Tongu, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, argued that many prominent world leaders who contracted the virus were not shy to talk about it citing UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Canada’s first Lady and Ghana’s Ambassador to the UK, Papa Owusu Ankomah as examples.

These people, he said, did not hide the information about their infection.

He questioned whether the government would have readily put out information of the infection of Ambassador Ankomah if he were living in Ghana.

“We must show leadership and I must say that I have not been happy at all over the last 24 hours with the way we have managed this information.”

In his contribution, Dr. Kweku Afriyie, MP for Sefwi Wiawso, stressed that no one has control over being infected with COVID-19.

He pointed out that a negative test result could change overnight and indicated there is no basis to discriminate against any patient.

“We have to speak and reach out and show support for those patients and those who have it should boldly come out and admit their status,” he said.

The Speaker, Professor Aaron Michael Oquaye, however, insisted nobody can unilaterally put into the public realm that a person is positive.

“It is only for an individual to volunteer to put this out in the public realm and we are all learning from this as decent and honourable people.”

“Such sensationalism must stop because they rather encourage stigmatization,” he said.