Preparing for Epidemics and Reducing Stigma


Segment Description: Christina Tan, MD, MPH, state epidemiologist, assistant commissioner, New Jersey Department of Health, discusses why it is important to prepare for disease epidemics and why it’s important to reduce stigma during an outbreak.

Interview transcript (modified slightly for readability):

Preparedness is very important just in general to keep in the back of our minds, because we've seen over the last decade, the emergence of a variety of different emerging infections. Whether it's COVID-19, whether it's SARS, a related novel coronavirus situation, MERS, again another related novel coronavirus that has emerged in the last decade, to other illnesses with different transmission modes such as Zika virus, or, for instance, the emergence of imported Ebola cases and as well as imported measles cases. Preparedness is always a very important issue that we should always be keeping in the front of our minds, whether you're in health care or in public health.

Unfortunately, we're hearing about cases of stigmatization and prejudice against certain populations, particularly related to travelers coming back from China. We want to remind everybody that what we're fighting right now is a virus. We're not fighting against pockets of our population who might have had a risk factor that put them at risk for, for COVID-19 illness. We want to remind everybody that the best way to dispel myth is to keep yourself informed. Go to trusted sources, such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's website where they're keeping up with the most up to date information so that we can make sure that we get the facts out there. That is really important for dispelling any sort of myths.

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