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Brazil: To those who suffer with us the pain of half a million losses
Renata Santos, Board President of MSF-Brazil
Facing the loss of a loved one is devastating, and I can relate to your pain. More than 500,000 lives have been lost to COVID-19 in Brazil. That’s half a MILLION people. From mothers and fathers to brothers and sisters, sons and daughters to friends and lovers - all irrefutably unbearable losses. We have all experienced such deep loss individually, yet also a collective catastrophe. It has made the whole country transition to a permanent state of mourning, with the health system edges closer to collapse. Meanwhile we are still far from seeing an effective, centralised and coordinated response to COVID-19 from Brazilian authorities.
"Many of these deaths were preventable"
As a humanitarian organisation, we have an obligation to indignantly condemn such dangerous disregard. And as a medical organisation, it is our duty to point out that many of these deaths were preventable.
There is adamant refusal by some authorities to implement science-based public health measures, such as social distancing and the use of masks that should be recommended even for people who have already been vaccinated or had the disease.
The lack of preventative measures has resulted in premature deaths and a growing risk of new variants of the virus - potentially more transmissible and deadly.
In a country where just a small portion of the population has been fully vaccinated, COVID-19 keeps infecting and killing thousands of people every day in Brazil.
"No less than inhumane"
As we witness the suffering of Brazilians who have lost loved ones, and of health professionals who are exhausted, facing the burden of psychological and emotional impact due to the harsh working conditions, we also notice the large amount of fake news circulating in communities throughout the country, feeding a cycle of death and disease.
"It’s unacceptable that despite more than 500,000 deaths, there are officials who are misguiding the public by promoting inappropriate treatment methods, dismissing the science and refusing to adopt preventative measures"
It’s shocking to accept that such misinformation is often spread by those who have the responsibility to protect the population.
It’s unacceptable that despite more than 500,000 deaths, there are officials who are misguiding the public by promoting inappropriate treatment methods, dismissing the science and refusing to adopt preventative measures.
Acting in such a way, at this point, is no less than inhumane.
While it’s stating the obvious, it’s necessary to reiterate that Brazil is now in a critical state, with high transmission rates and a need to increase vaccination coverage.
Refusal to take on preventative measures like not wearing a mask will contribute to keeping the COVID-19 incidence high, potentially resulting in more people hospitalised and more deaths.
Exposing inequalities in access to healthcare
The impact of the pandemic is stronger among those who are more exposed and vulnerable and with less access to healthcare, revealing yet another cruel impact of COVID-19: it has exposed our country’s historical inequalities in access to healthcare.
"Unfortunately, COVID-19 is still far from being controlled"
Several studies published since the start of the pandemic show that COVID-19 and its impacts on the health system have resulted in severe consequences for black and indigenous communities, as well as for migrants and refugees.
Unfortunately, COVID-19 is still far from being controlled.
The lives of our parents, children, siblings, friends and our loved ones will remain in danger. Right now, despite all the fatigue, anxiety and hope for this to end as soon as possible, we need to remain together and strong.
Please protect yourselves and your loved ones.