Coronavirus (329) BBC: Brazil's favela residents organise to stop the spread

3 April, 2020

Extracts and a comment from me below. Full text: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-latin-america-52137165

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'... Gilson Rodrigues is standing on a football pitch in the middle of the favela, loudspeaker in hand. The president of Paraisópolis residents' association, he's training people to become so-called "street presidents" - volunteers who'll ensure households understand hygiene measures and the need to stay indoors.

"The information that's being disseminated about the virus doesn't work for the people on the periphery," says Gilson. "Terms that are being used make no sense to the community here."...

Gilson tells me that one of his toughest tasks is debunking misinformation coming from Jair Bolsonaro. The president has been railing against drastic state-led measures to shut down the economy in an effort to curb the virus.

"When the president says something stupid, that coronavirus is just the sniffles or that people can get back to work, well the next day, people are out on the streets," he says.

"Jair Bolsonaro will be partly responsible for any deaths here because he's creating this situation. It's as if the 13 million people who live in slums in Brazil don't exist. There's been no policy to look after the country's favelas, we're being left to fend for ourselves."...

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Comment (NPW): Politicians, and especially heads of state, can have a major influence, for good or bad, on public health - and especially in public health emergencies such as the current pandemic. They can embrace evidence-informed policy, or they can ignore it. The consequences of the latter could be catastrophic.

Best wishes, Neil

Coordinator, HIFA Project on Evidence-Informed Policy and Practice

http://www.hifa.org/projects/evidence-informed-policy-and-practice

Let's build a future where people are no longer dying for lack of healthcare information - Join HIFA: www.hifa.org

HIFA profile: Neil Pakenham-Walsh is coordinator of the HIFA global health campaign (Healthcare Information For All - www.hifa.org ), a global community with more than 19,000 members in 177 countries, interacting on six global forums in four languages in collaboration with WHO. Twitter: @hifa_org FB: facebook.com/HIFAdotORG neil@hifa.org