In Brazil’s most densely populated favela, Paraisopolis, Sao Paulo , the situation has been compounded by what a local community leader, Gilson Rodrigues, says has been a total lack of support from the municipal government.
In early March, in response to the rising tide of cases in the favela and a lack of government support, a residents’ association, headed by Rodrigues, decided to setup their own network of covid-19 healthcare support. According to Rodrigues, the intention was to “to create alternatives so that if the government didn’t do its job, we would be able to mobilize to prevent suffering in the community”
The organisation began by hiring a 24-hour ambulance service exclusively for the neighborhood and later expanded the provision by hiring an additional three ambulances, two doctors, and two nurses, as well as drivers and support staff.
Alongside trained healthcare professionals, the organisation has also trained a grass roots network of 400 street captains or presidents, each of whom is responsible for checking up on and providing basic first aid to 50 families, as well as helping to distribute food, water and sanitation kits provided by the residents’ association.
To complement these services, the organisation has also taken over two schools, creating isolation hospitals for those who have tested positive for the virus, therefore reducing spread among the densely packed households.