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29/05/2020 | Article

Response to COVID-19 in a country of continental dimensions

"During this period of fear and anguish around the world, when most of the population is at home, we choose to take care of others, out of love," said Joice Batista, a Brazilian Red Cross nurse who, together with more than 2,800 volunteers and technicians from this National Society, is fully dedicated to the noble work of saving lives in the time of COVID-19. Brazil is one of the countries in the Americas most affected by the virus outbreak. This situation demands great efforts to support the national health system and the most vulnerable populations. The Brazilian Red Cross, through its 21 branches, is providing assistance especially in the delivery of hygiene and sanitation kits, as well as psychosocial support. These actions have reached more than 133,000 people in the country, mainly in 11 states, including São Paulo, Ceará, Rio de Janeiro, Amazonas, and others strongly affected by the outbreak. The work has been carried out by visiting affected areas and assisting health personnel. Food and nutrition kits have been delivered to vulnerable people in 15 cities, and hygiene items have been donated to professionals in public clinics and hospitals. "This is an important contribution. This is what we need, protection for health professionals so that we in turn can care for the sick population," said Maria Liduína Jales, a health worker at one of the hospitals to which the Red Cross has delivered materials. The National Society has put a lot of effort into managing the distribution of these kinds of supplies. At the moment, hundreds of volunteers are helping with the production of an additional 35,000 hygiene kits that will be distributed in the next few days. In addition, the Red Cross is running four hospitals and two clinics in Brazil. This work has required significant management, especially for resource mobilization. "This is a country of continental dimensions, and as an auxiliary entity of the government we have moved with everything to be able to efficiently reach the populations in greater condition of vulnerability" said Julio Cals, President of the National Society. "We have made alliances with several companies and organizations, and we have strengthened our communication with communities, volunteers and collaborators." The COVID-19 Pandemic has generated high levels of stress and emotional impact on people. For this reason, the Brazilian Red Cross is undertaking important work in psychosocial support, especially in the states of Rio de Janeiro, Amazonas, Distrito Federal, Mato Grosso do Sul, Paraná and Rio Grande do Sul. Volunteers from the National Society make home visits to provide care in the localities, and a tele-assistance service has also been set up. In the same way, there is an important effort to protect the mental health of National Society volunteers. Emotional support spaces have been created for Red Cross staff, and the telecare service is also open. The activation of the National Society, and the work being done on the ground, is made possible by the unconditional support of thousands of volunteers who have decided to give their best to help others. "I am grateful to do good for others and for the community," said Joice. "This work gives me a natural sense of personal satisfaction and gratification, even in fear”.

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