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‘Fiocruz against Covid-19’ benefits vulnerable populations


Márcia Corrêa e Castro (Canal Saúde) e Regina Castro (CCS/Fiocruz)


The Fiocruz against Covid-19 will benefit, all over the country, 145 projects that focus on vulnerable populations, such as quilombos (rural afro-brazilian settlements), indigenous peoples, riverside populations and favela dwellers. The initiative reaches more than 80 municipalities in all Brazilian states. The projects were selected through a Public Call for Support to Emergency Actions against Covid-19 in Vulnerable Populations. From the projects that have been approved, 60 will be run in the North-East region, 51 in the South-East, 18 in the North, and 10 in the South and in the Center-West regions.

Overall, more than 800 non-governmental agencies have enrolled, opting for one or more of five theme areas of interest. Among the selected projects, 110 include food safety actions, 101 involve communication activities, 95 work with collective and individual hygiene protocols (handing out cleaning products, for instance), 73 are dedicated to assistance to risk groups, and 28 tackle mental health.

The proposals fit into three financing ranges, according to the budget presented: up to R$ 10,000 (around US$ 2,000); up to R$ 25,000 (around US$ 5,000); up to R$ 50,000 (around US$ 10,000). The total amount invested will be 4.5 million Brazilian reais (around US$  900,000), taken from donations made to Fiocruz for their application into humanitarian actions.

In addition to the financial resources, all selected organizations will count on Fiocruz technical support. For this purpose, a team of more than 70 professionals has been assembled, who will be following the projects. They will be in charge of validating the informative results produced and distributed by the projects, and will also guide the organizations for the safe execution of the activities proposed.


One of the projects selected is the Young Communicators action, developed in the city of Niterói, in the state of Rio de Janeiro. The initiative uses the Internet to train young favela dwellers so they can act as multipliers of reliable information on Covid-19 in their own communities, through social media (mainly WhatsApp). In addition to the training, participants receive a R$ 250 (around US$ 50) “scholarship” during four months. With this amount, these young people can remain at home, respecting social distancing during the pandemic. The R$ 49,000 (around US$ 9,800) financial support offered by Fiocruz will allow the program to include a further 50 young people to the 500 already covered by the project.

The champion in the R$ 25,000 range was the Krãnhmenti Indigenous Association, located in the municipality of Banach, in the hinterland of the northern state of Pará. The association will be using the funds to create a bilingual campaign, in Portuguese and in Mebêngôkre-Kayapó, to offer information on how to face the pandemic. They will also manufacture and hand out masks and staple food baskets to 50 families of the kayapó ethnic group in the region. 

Another highlight among the projects with budgets of up to R$ 50,000 is the LGBTI X Corona action, which targets mainly transexual individuals and transvestites. Proposed by the Grupo Arco-Íris (‘Rainbow Group’) of Rio de Janeiro, the proposal includes an informative campaign that tackles prevention of coronavirus transmission, the issue of sex during the pandemic, and guidelines for people living with HIV/Aids. The association also offers members of this social group the services of psychologists who will be assisting them in virtual rooms and/or via phone. 

In the Southern region, one of the 10 selected projects will be carried out by the Hip Hop Culture Association of the city of Esteio, in the state of Rio Grande do Sul. They will be distributing 350 staple food baskets in communities in social vulnerability, all the while using the hip hop culture (both music and graffitti) to raise awareness among the population of these territories on collective and individual hygiene practices.

In the state of São Paulo, the Geledés group has been selected to run a project that fights domestic violence during social isolation. The action, which will cover the metropolitan region of the state, has made available an app women can use to activate specific contacts of their social networks through a single touch, should they find themselves in a situation of violence.

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