Amazonas receives US$530 thousand in international aid to combat Covid-19

Feb 16, 2021

On January 25, the government of Amazonas launched a global appeal to the international community – the second since the beginning of the pandemic. A request for support to face the serious health crisis caused by Covid-19 in the State. With the help of the Governors Climate and Forests Task Force (GCFTF) and the connection facilitated by Health Bridges International (HBI) President Wayne Centrone, the international community was mobilized to address this crisis, and they delivered. 

Moved by the situation in Amazonas, the NGO Direct Relief, based in California, approved in record time an emergency grant of 530 thousand dollars for the purchase of concentrators of oxygen. 

“Ending a pandemic that threatens everyone demands the type of international collaboration exemplified here by Amazonas, GCFTF, HBI and others. Direct Relief is so pleased to join this important effort that is pulling together people and organizations to address the myriad threats to public health,” said Direct Relief President and CEO Thomas Tighe

The support of Direct Relief will allow supplies to reach remote areas of the Amazon, particularly municipalities that already include the residents of indigenous communities and conservation units, to strengthen their infrastructure and address issues related to the lack of oxygen.

“The priority is to serve rural areas and avoid the impact of the second wave on the most vulnerable communities”, highlighted the Secretary of the Environment and coordinator of the efforts, Eduardo Taveira. 

Governor Wilson Lima thanked Direct Relief and reinforced the importance of donations to expand the service network.

We doubled our infrastructure and opened many beds. We already increased our capacity by almost 200%, so we practically tripled our network. In this sense, every help in terms of donations and partnerships is important, so that we can continue to expand our infrastructure, especially at a time when there is a shortage of certain products in the international market, declared Lima.

The funds were received by the Foundation for Amazon Sustainability (FAS) and, in all, 355 oxygen concentrators were purchased to serve patients affected by Covid-19.

“This donation is extremely important since the 355 oxygen concentrators can be used in different places in rural Amazonas, which today suffer greatly from the lack of this type of equipment. We would like to express our immense gratitude to the donors and partners in this project,” declared Virgílio Viana, general superintendent of FAS. 

Oxygen Concentrators are in critically short supply globally. Oxygen is among the most important needs of severely ill Covid-19 patients, who often arrive at hospitals with extremely low blood-oxygen levels. They are also critical for keeping hospital beds open by allowing timely discharge of recovering but stable Covid-19 patients. This initiative will secure oxygen concentrators appropriate for both rural, low-tech settings as well as hospital and ICU settings.  

Health Bridges International’s experience with Peru was the inspiration to arrive at this solution for Brazil. According to HBI president Wayne Centrone, the use of oxygen concentrators to aid Covid patients in Peru has been so successful that the country has started to manufacture its own machines. Centrone was responsible for connecting the GCFTF and the Amazonas team to Direct Relief. 

Knowing that we, Health Bridges, could have even a very small part in helping the government of Amazonas, Direct Relief, and the Governors Climate and Forests Task Force save lives is both personally and professionally very gratifying. Our organization exists to create connections. We believe strongly in the power of collaboration and the impact of shared resources, knowledge and skills. We are committed to help GCFTF, the Government of Amazonas, and Direct Relief in any manner they request or require to advance the health and well-being of the people of the Brazilian Amazon Forest,” said Centrone.

GCFTF Project Director, Colleen Scanlan Lyons, stressed that human connections made the aid to Amazonas possible.

The Governors’ Climate and Forests Task Force (GCFTF) was founded over a decade ago on the belief that only by joining together can we combat some of the most pressing issues of our time. The global Covid pandemic has brought this need for unity and partnership into sharp relief. It is an honor to connect Health Bridges International, Direct Relief, and the Foundation for Amazon Sustainability—organizations doing a profound amount of good in the world—with our GCFTF member states and provinces as together they channel Covid relief strategies to some of the most remote and hard-hit communities in the Brazilian Amazon,” said Lyons.