By Vatican News staff reporter
"A situation that arouses deep sadness, but unites us in the clamour for the vaccine to reach everyone in the Amazon and for the population to be immunised to combat the pandemic in a comprehensive and permanent way".
That was the conclusion of the Pan-Amazonian Ecclesial Network or REPAM in its latest weekly report on the pandemic situation in the region. On Monday 26 July, the number of deaths in the Amazon reached 100,000 people, according to official figures; however, there are likely to be many more given the difficulties in accessing information and ways of recording and transmitting data from each of the countries involved.
The official figures speak of 100,037 deaths and 3,500,761 people infected by Covid-19 in Pan-Amazonia, which includes the territories of Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, French Guyana, Peru, Suriname and Venezuela. This weekly report has been produced by the Pan-Amazonian Ecclesial Network since 17 March 2020, when it collected data on the first 24 cases and one death.
Lack of health care
The Covid-19 pandemic has made even more apparent the lack of health care facilities that afflicts the region, especially in the last 16 months, in which dramatic situations have been experienced due to the lack of basic health care, oxygen, medicine and biosecurity materials.
Insufficient vaccines and misinformation
REPAM laments that there is currently great uncertainty about the vaccination situation of the Amazonian population, given that the number of people immunised is still far below what was expected. In particular, two critical situations have been identified: the lack of vaccines and misinformation.
The insufficiency of vaccines to immunise the population in the Amazon shows "the negligence and lack of seriousness of most national governments to face the pandemic,” the report says. On the other hand, there is a proliferation of "disinformation campaigns", ranging from denial of the seriousness of the pandemic, to falsehoods spread by political and religious fanaticism. "There are many stories about this situation," says REPAM, "that are becoming widespread in the communities of the Amazon, to the point that people are refusing to get vaccinated."
Solidarity and urgent action
In the framework of the World Assembly for the Amazon, since February 2021 the Amazonian peoples and community organisations have been launching a "cry" that calls for, among other things, "solidarity and urgent action to address the Health Emergency in the Amazon". This "cry” calls for a guarantee of universal access to reliable vaccines for the Amazonian population; the release of intellectual property to address the global health crisis of Covid-19; and for the WHO (World Health Organization) and PAHO (Pan American Health Organization) to intensify immediate medical care and access to medicines; as well as the establishment of basic income for families suffering from the pandemic.
In view of this situation, REPAM calls on authorities to provide and send vaccines for the Amazonian population in all countries, and "not to ignore the difficulties and cries, especially of the poorest and most fragile".
To this end, it has launched a campaign under the hashtag #VaccineAmazon to invite people to get vaccinated and not be misinformed, motivating their communities to make this concrete gesture for the common good. With the "Say yes to the vaccine! Get vaccinated!" campaign, which will start in August, REPAM wants to raise awareness of the importance of immunising the population in order to fight the pandemic in a comprehensive and permanent way.