IOM Helps Prevent the Spread of COVID-19 among Brazilian Indigenous and Riverside Communities
TDS News– Indigenous, rural, and riverside communities in northern Brazil comprise the most vulnerable populations to the spread of COVID-19. Due to economic and transportation restrictions in place across such communities, locals’ access to health, hygiene and cleaning products is limited, making it difficult to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus.
In the Brazilian states of Roraima and Manaus, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) is implementing an array of activities to promote increased hygiene and sanitation. Issuing sensitization material to inform on COVID-19 prevention, IOM also is offering medical care in partnership with local public health networks.
One indigenous community, known as São João do Tupé, resides on the banks of the Rio Negro, a main tributary of the Amazon river about 25 kilometers from Manaus’ capital. São João do Tupé inhabitants recently have received cleaning supplies and personal hygiene items from IOM, as well as regular health services from IOM in partnership with the Manaus Health Secretary.
“There are currently 102 families in the community. Many families were in need. We were worried because nowadays it is very difficult to go to the city,” said a resident from São João do Tupé, named Cleiciane. “All these distributions are important to address hygiene needs, helping to disinfect homes and maintain personal cleanliness.”
As a result of the pandemic, IOM teams are following precautions determined by the World Health Organization (WHO) and try to avoid large groups. To do its distributions, IOM delivers hygiene kits to focal points in each community, letting volunteers take care that each kit gets to its proper recipient.
Respecting prevention protocols, information sessions also are being held in small groups, who learn how to use masks, as well as hand washing practices and other guidelines for maintaining healthy habits.
“Amazonas is experiencing a new peak of the COVID-19 pandemic and with these actions we aim to support the response of the state and the municipal governments helping to strengthen the local health network,” explained IOM’s Chief of Mission in Brazil, Stéphane Rostiaux.
IOM is installing handwashing stations—five in Amazonas and two more at riverside locations. In the state of Roraima, 14 washbasins are to be installed—eight for health units and six for indigenous communities. The goal is to give some 13,000 people access to handwashing stations.
In addition, IOM’s donations of medical and dental equipment in Manoá, an indigenous community in Roraima, helped equip a newly opened health unit with stretchers and wheelchairs, along with other crucial equipment.
“The materials will benefit our community and others that need assistance at our health unit. It is not just for us, it is for the indigenous population in general,” said the community leader from the Manoá indigenous community in Roraima, José dos Santos.
These activities are carried out with financial support from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).