PAHO & COICA join forces against pandemic in Amazon Basin

—transmission in Indigenous communities a concern

DPI, Guyana, Thursday, July 16, 2020

The Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO) and the Coordinator of Indigenous Organisations of the Amazon River Basin (COICA) have agreed to collaborate to fight against the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) in Indigenous areas of the Amazon, especially at border areas.

In a joint statement, the organisations said that the increase in deaths of Indigenous peoples due to COVID-19 has dealt a serious blow to their communities.

They also warned that “the eventual entry of the virus into isolated territories will expose these populations to a serious risk of extinction.”

Another concern of PAHO and COICA is the high rates of diabetes, hypertension and other chronic diseases in some Amazonian communities, which increases the risk of severe COVID-19 cases. Malaria and dengue in Indigenous communities, also adds the need for concern and warrants an emergency response, according to the statement.

Both organisations called on governments to strengthen their COVID-19 response by coordinating with Indigenous organizations in the Amazon, providing better resources such as tests, medical supplies, vaccines and human resources, especially in communities living in voluntary isolation.

PAHO and COICA are planning a regional forum with other agencies and international organisations in the area to facilitate coordinated actions and reflect “the reality of indigenous peoples and nationalities of the Amazon.

COICA includes Indigenous member organizations from various countries making up the Amazon Basin, including Guyana, Brazil, Colombia, Bolivia and Suriname among others.

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