Prevention, vaccine and healthcare for the “ribeirinhos” of Amazonia

The Covid-19 pandemic has increased the vulnerability of communities and populations already living in a subsistence economy and isolated conditions.

This first health care project was born from the idea that no community should be left alone to face the health, social and economic consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Since August 2019, from the city of Óbidos, in the Pará region of Amazonia in Brazil, the floating Hospital Ship Papa Francisco has been in action serving more than 1000 communities along the Amazon basin. Funded initially by compensation for an environmental disaster, and supported by Pope Francis, the hospital ship supplies health care to around 700,000 people without access to regular hospitals or other forms of medical support.

Doctors, nurses, health technicians and volunteers are aboard the hospital ship which is equipped with a high-tech intensive therapy unit, ventilators, ultrasound, mammogram and X-ray facilities, clinical and dental treatment, hospital beds, pharmacy, laboratory, operating theatre and chirurgical recovery beds.

What the project envisioned?

The pandemic’s progress has worsened conditions in these communities, calling for urgent action to supply adequate protection from Covid-19.

Working with the Associação lar São Francisco de assis na providencia de Deus, which runs the hospital ship, we wanted to reach the most isolated communities of the Amazon; acquiring vaccines, Covid hygiene and virus protection kits, other electro-medical treatment supplies, protective equipment for treatment and post-Covid care, packages of basic foodstuffs to benefit the indigenous populations and residents along the banks of the Amazon river.

(This link leads to the website of AMU, an NGO co-promoting this campaign, and managing the project with its counterpart)

Associação e Fraternidade São Francisco de Assis na Providência de Deus  

The Associação e Fraternidade São Francisco de Assis na Providência de Deus is an association dedicated to serving and caring for those most in need. With headquarters in the Brazilian city of Jaci, (São Paulo State), it covers the states of Goiás, Paraná, Ceará, Pará e Rio de Janeiro, as well as a mission on the island of Haiti.

It specializes in running healthcare delivery: hospitals, specialist clinics, first aid, pharmacies, care homes for patients undergoing treatment, therapeutic community centres for those recovering from alocoholism or drug dependency. It also promotes education and substance-abuse prevention programs for children and adolescents.

Founded by Franciscan friar Nélio Joel Angeli Belotti, the Association’s first project was the “Lar São Francisco de Assis na Providência de Deus” therapeutic community for those battling drug addiction, inaugurated on 4 October 1985 in Jaci, São Paulo. It began with seven patients and a team of volunteers. Over the past forty years, they’ve welcomed over 40,000 people suffering from drug addictions, the  majority of whom have been able to break free from their dependency and rediscover their life.

In Amazonia, the Association runs two hospitals, one at Óbidos and the other at Juruti.

On 17 August 2017, to overcome the huge problem of patients travelling to reach healthcare, the hospital ship “Papa Francisco na Providencia de Deus” was inaugurated, anchored in the port of Obidos in Pará, serving over 1000 riverside communities in the Amazon region. The hospital ship is proving to be the best way to bring health care to the population living alongside the river. 

The ship is equipped with medical and dental clinics, an operating theatre, full ophthalmolical unit, laboratory, pharmacy, vaccination room, recovery ward, as well as some X-ray, ecograph and electro-cardiograph facilities.

The ship is accompanied by two “ambulance boats”, one dedicated to triage to maximise the efficiency of treatment, the other equipped for accident and emergency to deal with additional complications.

AMU – Associazione Azione Mondo Unito 

AMU (Associazione Azione per un Mondo Unito – NGO [Action for a United World] ) has been working for 35 years to achieve the highest possible degree of reciprocity between individuals, communities and peoples, through international cooperation projects and global citizenship education.
AMU is co-promoter of the campaign “A Vaccine for All, #DareToCare” and is in charge of project management together with its local counterpart Associação Lar São Francisco de Assis na Providencia de Deus.
It kept an up-to-date account of the actions and movements of the “Hospital Ship”, its expenses, purchases and administration.