Vaccinations by boat? – Oh yes!
Brazilians are finding creative ways to vaccinate the most remote communities in the Amazon region.
The Amazon Rainforest covers most of northwestern Brazil and is home to more than 37 thousand people belonging to 350 different communities. The Amazonian region was one of the most severely affected areas during the pandemic. Lack of infrastructure and corruption were some of the biggest issues that contributed to the highest mortality rate of the country. As the vaccine roll out increases in Brazil, they had to come up with creative ways to reach the indigenous and riverside population in the forest. The riverside population especially needed a lot of support because they don’t have a traditional tribal medicine man or the benefits of modern civilization with its available medical care. So what better way to reach all these people than doing vaccines on a boat!? ..Quick and easy! It’s worked so well that most people already had their second vaccine, which is amazing!
Who are the riverside inhabitants?
The inhabitants along the Amazonian riverbanks are known as ‘Ribeirinhas’. They are transitional communities consisting of mixed ethnic groups of detribalized natives. The Ribeirinhas live in tune with nature and have adapted perfectly to its ways. They learned to live in an environment full of limitations and challenges imposed by the river and the forest and have mastered it to the best of their abilities.
The Ribeirinhas live in wooden stilt houses close to the riverbanks. The houses are build a few metres above the water surface and have the ability to be raised during high water to prevent their homes from being flooded. However, these houses don’t have electricity, running water or basic sanitation.
The river has a fundamental role in the life of riverside dwellers. It is their only transport route and connection to other localities and communities. It is also where the riverine perform one of the main activities that provide them with a source of income and survival: fishing! The planting of corn and cassava, the production of flour and the collection of chestnuts and açaí also occupy a prominent place in the agricultural activities of the riverside communities.
The Ribeirinhas exceptional relationship with nature gives them superior knowledge of the flora and fauna of the forest, the use of medicinal plants, the rhythm and path of the waters, the sounds of the forest as well as the changing seasons. This interaction nourishes the culture and the knowledge which is passed on to further generations.
However, these riverside communities live in economic and social isolation and often remain overlooked when deciding on public policies and improvement of the quality of life. The geographical location of many of these communities is one of the main factors that is limiting the access to basic health and education services. Therefore it is of utmost importance to help and support those communities in every way possible!
We hope you enjoyed reading and learning about some curiosities and peculiarities of Brazil.
Char & Maria