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Institutions join forces for an innovative project to fight Covid-19 in the slums


Fundação Oswaldo Cruz (Fiocruz)


The Oswaldo Cruz Foundation (Fiocruz), in a partnership with the Community Council of Manguinhos, Redes da Maré, Dados do Bem, SAS Brasil and União Rio, is launching an innovative project that makes possible full healthcare in the favelas, and will contribute to face the Covid-19 pandemic in the communities of Maré and Manguinhos, in Rio de Janeiro. Conexão Saúde: de olho na Covid (Health Connection: keeping an eye on Covid), as the initiative is called, is supported by the city government by means of the health units of the local Programatic Area, and its services range from orientation and support to local population, telemedicine, molecular tests, contact tracing, and production of risk maps within the communities.

In a second phase of the project it can be replicated in other favelas and peripheral neighborhoods as an intervention model for emergencies in public health, already tested at a local level. (photo: Peter Ilicciev)

According to the specialists involved, these actions, implemented in a structured way, constitute an active surveillance proposal that might be considered a model to fight the pandemic in favelas and popular territories. “Based on the involvement of several partners, we are successfully integrating basic healthcare in a systemic manner to the fight against the pandemic in the region, offering a full supply chain of care, from the possibility of early diagnosis and clinical follow-up to molecular testing and contact tracing”, explains Valcler Rangel, project coordinator through Fiocruz.

Rangel states that in a second phase of the project it can be replicated in other favelas and peripheral neighborhoods as an intervention model for emergencies in public health, already tested at a local level. This would mean a complementary contribution to what has already been done by the government, with the goal of achieving full and equal healthcare and social assistance, in sync with the foundational principles of the Brazilian Public Health System, known by the acronym SUS.

The initiative is expected to leave a legacy in the territories where it will be implemented, with technical foundations for the development of Active Surveillance in Health actions, the construction of expertise for social distancing strategies in the favelas, consolidation of communication models focused on health emergencies and remote psychological and medical care adapted to the conditions of vulnerable populations.

The articulation of all the partners involved was the result of an action of União Rio, responsible for integrating efforts and expertises to make the project viable: SAS Brasil, with its experience of telemedicine follow-up; Dados do Bem, with an app that evaluates clinical and epidemiological symptoms for molecular testing, in addition to the mapping of virus distribution; Fiocruz, providing its capacity of test production and processing; and the Redes da Maré and Community Council of Manguinhos, responsible for the entire social mobilization.

In addition to processing the samples, Fiocruz will also be coordinating the project, responsible for the training of the professionals involved, for the logistics of the different phases, for the donation of materials for collection and for the transportation of the samples to the labs.

The Conexão Saúde: de olho na Covid project has received about 1.6 million Brazilian reais from Todos pela Saúde, an initiative led by Itaú Unibanco bank, which has been financing a series of actions to fight the pandemic.

Information on the partners:

SAS Brasil: The health team of SAS Brasil, responsible for integrating telemedicine to the project, has a network of more than 70 physicians of 13 specialities, who use the SAS Brasil system itself, with video calls and electronic medical records. Just like in other places, SAS Brasil fulfils all the demands of the health of the population, regardless of whether or not they are related to Covid-19. Psychological support will also be offered, with more than 30 professionals available through video calls.

Dados do Bem: the Dados do Bem app, developed by the D’Or Institute for Research and Teaching (IDOR) and Zoox, will work as one of the doors through which people can access this active surveillance proposal. Created by researchers, infectologists and an intelligence team, this tool, available free of cost to the government, provides a virus distribution map and strategic data on Covid-19 to facilitate decision-making processes for the authorities.

União Rio: This is a spontaneous movement of civil society that brings together people and organizations in an attempt to reduce the impact caused by the Covid-19 pandemic in the state of Rio de Janeiro. With the goal of saving lives, they attempt to find effective solutions in the health area, and provide support to the thousands of families living in areas of social vulnerability. União Rio has already made possible the activation of 370 hospital beds and the distribution of more than 1 million PPEs to healthcare professionals, and has donated food and personal hygiene items to more than 250 thousand families in 237 communities.

Redes da Maré: With more than 20 years working in the territory, Redes da Maré will be working on the articulation, mobilization and publicizing of the tools among the about 140,000 inhabitants of the 16 favelas in the Maré area, facilitating access to these services to the population. Since the beginning of May, Redes da Maré has been monitoring suspect cases of Covid-19 in Maré and publishing the figures every week on the De Olho no Corona (Keeping a eye on corona), report, always with analysis on the effects and impacts of the pandemic on the populations of the favelas, especially in Maré.

Community Council of Manguinhos: Consisting of representatives of institutions and social groups acknowledged by inhabitants with economic, social and cultural actuation in the communities that make up the extended territory of Manguinhos, the goal of the Council is to contribute for the sustainable development of the region, promoting actions and dialogues between the locals and private, governmental and socio-communitary institutions.

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