Indigenous networks fight COVID-19 in Amazon communities

Young people learn to use tools to disseminate prevention practices and fight misinformation

Workshops on communication, health, and COVID-19 prevention will be held this year with young communicators in Indigenous communities in the state of Roraima. The aim is to train them on how to use different media tools to disseminate information on disease prevention.  The work will also include quilombola communities in the Northern Region of Brazil.

Similar work began to be carried out in the second half of 2021 in Roraima. Thanks to a remote connection, they were able to attend the Wakywai Workshop against COVID-19. In addition to the communication course, they included health topics and fighting misinformation discourse.

With the arrival of the Omicron variant in January, it became increasingly important to disseminate information on COVID-19 among Indigenous communities. Unfortunately, despite the progress of vaccination programs, epidemiological bulletins issued by the Ministry of Health's Special Secretariat for Indigenous Health point to an increase in contagion curves.

Using the knowledge acquired in the workshops, young people from the Macuxi, Wapichana, Taurepang, and Sapará peoples are already adopting the new tools to strengthen their fight against the pandemic. In addition to disseminating accurate information about COVID-19, they discuss strategies to fight misinformation and strengthen the Wakywai Network.

"We disseminate our own history.

We understand our reality and we want to help our communities, and the Indigenous movement as a whole,"

said Isabela da Silva, from the Wapichana people.

For her, the workshop was very enriching, as it taught them new communication tools, such as podcasts, which are not well known among Indigenous youth.

Isabela believes that podcasts can be very useful to reinforce the importance of COVID-19 and flu shots for the communities.

The training program was supported by USAID and was delivered through a partnership involving the Roraima Indigenous Council (CIR), Internews, Nature and Culture International (NCI), Collective 105, Mídia Índia, and Fiocruz. Activities included three weeks of theoretical and practical workshops, where communicators developed their skills to create posters and worked on the production and editing of videos and podcasts.

For Nailson Silva de Almeida, from the Tabalascada Community, in the Serra da Lua region, the workshops were essential to teach them how to work with new tools and demystify vaccines. "When we aired a podcast about the importance of vaccination, our families got the message. Before, many did not want to take it," says Almeida, who is already looking forward to new training to further strengthen the Indigenous movement and the Wakywai Network.