Influencers and Celebrities Support Smile Train India’s Digital Campaign, #EndTheStigma Around COVID-19

05/14/2020

Cricketer Harbhajan Singh, Paralympic Icon Dr. Deepa Malik and Miss Diva Universe 2020 Adline Castelino urge the public to show empathy during the pandemic

Smile Train, the world's largest cleft organization, recently launched a digital campaign in India titled, #EndTheStigma, to create awareness around the stigma associated with COVID-19. Stigma around COVID-19 has been one of the biggest challenges that frontline workers and patients are facing right now. It is preventing people from wanting to get tested and forcing landlords to push their tenants out of their homes. Frontline workers such as health professionals, local administration and essential service providers are facing physical, mental and emotional harassment and isolation due to the stigma attached to COVID-19. Smile Train India rallied the support of its ambassadors and local medical partners to help spread this message on social media through personal video messages.

Talking about the campaign, Smile Train’s Vice President and Regional Director-Asia, Mamta Carrol said, “We cannot let the fear of COVID-19 strike our humanity. As India and the rest of the world comes together to fight this pandemic, we need to show compassion and unite for a greater cause.”

Recently, Dr. Randeep Guleria, the Director of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, also urged that stigma attached with COVID-19 treatment is far more dangerous than the disease. While 90-95 percent of patients with COVID-19 recover, the mortality rate from the disease is rising due to the stigma attached to the disease. COVID-19 stigma is a major roadblock in India’s path to recovery. Research shows that at the height of the HIV crisis, stigma and misinformation were among key factors that prevented people from seeking testing and care until it was too late.  As a result, it has become crucial to come out and speak about this stigma. 

Smile Train has been dealing with stigma faced by children with clefts and parents of cleft babies since the year 2000. In the last 20 years, Smile Train has partnered with 150+ hospitals across India to create awareness about clefts and has supported 600,000+ cleft surgeries. Even during the current lockdown, Smile Train’s national cleft helpline, manned by their resilient team from home, got a distress call from a mother of a two-day-old baby that had been abandoned by her family since she was born with a cleft.  There are many more stories like this and everyone is doing their part to fight this pandemic and come out stronger.

Cleft patients who wish to avail free cleft surgery/consultation can reach Smile Train on their Toll-Free Cleft Helpline: 1800 103 8301

###

About Smile Train India

Smile Train empowers local medical professionals with training, funding, and resources to provide free cleft surgery and comprehensive cleft care to children globally. We advance a sustainable solution and scalable global health model for cleft treatment, drastically improving children’s lives, including their ability to eat, breathe, speak, and ultimately thrive. To learn more about how Smile Train's India’s sustainable approach means donations have both an immediate and long-term impact, please visit smiletrainindia.org.

Toll-Free Cleft Helpline Number: 1800 103 8301