New application helps indigenous peoples from the Amazon to protect themselves from COVID-19
App shows the number of confirmed cases of the disease in towns close to the indigenous territories and facilitates the collection of information about infections.
With the intention of supporting the indigenous peoples of the Legal Amazon to confront the new coronavirus, COIAB (Coordination of the Indigenous Organizations of the Brazilian Amazon) and IPAM (Institute for Environmental Research of the Amazon) launched on September 4, 2020, a free application with detailed information about COVID-19 cases in the region: the COVID-19 indigenous alert.
Based on data from the Ministry of Health, the application maps and periodically updates the situation of the pandemic in towns within a radius of 100 kilometers around each indigenous land of the region. This information helps to reduce the risk of contamination between the villages and the towns, if the indigenous people need to travel to a nearby municipality.
The COVID-19 indigenous alert also has other features, such as gathering data of confirmed cases and deaths in the 25 Special Indigenous Health Districts (DSEIs) of the Brazilian Amazon, from information collected in bulletins and obituaries from the Special Secretariat of Indigenous Health (SESAI) and information from leaders and organizations from the COIAB network and from indigenous health professionals. It also allows COIAB to register new cases of COVID-19 among indigenous peoples in the nine states of the Amazon.
“The application is a new instrument to monitor what COIAB has been carrying out since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in Brazil, in March 2020. This gathering of information, in addition to guiding our strategies and actions to combat COVID-19, has also revealed the sub-notification of the public agencies and how the new virus affects us in a different and serious way,” explains the vice-coordinator of COIAB, Mário Nicácio.
The indigenous peoples are especially vulnerable to the new coronavirus, with an incidence rate of 249% higher than the national average and a 224% higher mortality rate, in an analysis performed with cases registered up to August 28, 2020. Deficient systems of specific care for this population, a low degree of indigenous immunity to exogenous pathogens in their environment and the invasion of indigenous lands by persons who introduce the virus into their territories and communities are some of the reasons behind these alarming numbers.
“In addition to the use by indigenous peoples, the application allows for the rapid identification of the critical areas, so that more efficient and punctual actions against the advance of COVID-19 can be taken by leaders and organizations,” says IPAM researcher Martha Fellows, who coordinated the development of the application.
The COVID-19 indigenous alert app can be downloaded for free at https://coiab.org.br/covid (Android version).