New app helps indigenous people stay protected from covid-1922.09.2020 • News
By Sara R. Leal¹
With the intent of aiding indigenous people in the Legal Amazon in facing the novel coronavirus, the Coordination of the Indigenous Organizations of the Brazilian Amazon (COIAB) and the Amazon Environmental Research Institute (IPAM) launched on September 4 a free app, with detailed information on the cases of covid-19 in the region: Alerta Indígena COVID-19 (Indigenous Alert COVID-19).
Based on data from the Health Ministry, the app periodically maps and updates the situation of the pandemic in cities in a radius of 100 kilometers around each indigenous land in the region. This information helps reduce the risks of contamination between villages and cities, in case natives need to go to a nearby municipality center.
Alerta Indígena COVID-19 also presents other functions, such as gathering data on confirmed cases and deaths in the 25 Special Indigenous Sanitary Districts (DSEIs) of the Brazilian Amazon, based on information brought up in newsletters and death notices from the Special Secretariat for Indigenous Health (SESAI), information from leaders and organizations in COIAB’s network, and indigenous health professionals. It also allows natives referred by COIAB to register new cases of covid-19 among these people in the nine states of the Amazon.
“The app will be a new instrument in the monitoring that COIAB has been doing since the beginning of the pandemic in Brazil, in March 2020. This information gathering, besides guiding our strategies and actions to fight covid-19, has also revealed under-reporting by public organs and how the novel virus affects us in an unequal and severe way”, explains the vice-coordinator of COIAB, Mário Nicácio Wapichana.
Indigenous people are especially vulnerable to the novel coronavirus, with an incidence rate 249% higher than the national average and a mortality rate 224% higher, according to an analysis of cases registered by August 28. Inadequate specific care systems for this population, low indigenous immunity to pathogens exogenous to their environment, and the invasion of their lands by actors who can carry the virus into territories and communities are some of the reasons behind such alarming numbers.
“Apart from being used by the natives themselves, the app allows for fast identification of critical areas, so that more efficient and punctual actions against the spread of covid-19 may be taken by leaders and organizations”, says IPAM researcher Martha Fellows, who coordinated the development of the app.
The app Alerta Indígena COVID-19 can be downloaded for free from the COIAB website (for Android).
¹Journalist and Communications Analyst at IPAM, firstname.lastname@example.org