The rise of vulnerable populations and care measures: what has been learned so far in times of the pandemic

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This article was exclusively written for The European Sting by Mr. Daltro Moreira Iori and Ms. Karine Franco, two medical students at the University Center of Maringá. They are affiliated with the International Federation of Medical Students Associations (IFMSA), cordial partner of The Sting. The opinions expressed in this piece belong strictly to the writers and do not necessarily reflect IFMSA’s view on the topic, nor The European Sting’s one.


The COVID-19 pandemic decreed by the World Health Organization in March 2020 has uncovered the fragility of the economic market and exposed, in the most striking way, the socioeconomic inequality that prevails in most societies. In the chaotic scenario caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and amidst trying to find a way out and figuring out a balance between saving lives or the economy, much has been done and much has been left aside.

In the pandemic panorama, there is a noticeable worsening of social inequalities, which mainly affect vulnerable groups such as the black, disabled, and LGBTI+ communities as well as other traditional peoples and groups².

According to the Getúlio Vargas Foundation, in Brazil, the number of citizens living below the poverty line (US $ 1.90 per day) has tripled in the last year, reaching around 27 million Brazilians. High levels of unemployment and the absence of public policies have made access to income difficult, leading to the worst scenario of poverty in Brazil in the last ten years.

However, projects, programs, and measures were taken, belatedly and unsuccessfully, by the government with the intention of alleviating this discrepancy through the social assistance policy. Additionally, the cuts in resources destined to health, education and social assistance directly affected this most vulnerable population¹.

However, what came to the surface during the pandemic was the potential for solidarity. Creating support networks for both individuals and communities, promoting intersectoral articulation between services and public policies -especially involving the population in the processes of construction- reorganization, planning, execution and evaluation of social assistance offers is to promote comprehensive care and health³.

Observations made during the first year of COVID-19 show that these actions became extremely important to reduce the losses generated. It is necessary that the Government help the population that is currently derailing into poverty, plagued by unemployment and hunger. Furthermore, Emergency Aid (a monetary value offered by the State to people in vulnerable situations) should continue to be available to the population, as a way of supporting citizens and, thereby ensuring a baseline of dignity and right to life¹.

After a year of the pandemic, much has been unraveled, but little has been put into practice. Basic health measures, such as hand hygiene, social distancing and the use of masks, must continue to be encouraged. In addition, it is essential that we ensure the right to human dignity to vulnerable populations that now more than ever, are being neglected by the government.

People who are in extreme poverty do not have the option to take care of their health. They face life or death situations daily and cannot stop working even if they are sick or working under unsafe conditions. Thus, keeping the economy going at the expense of people having to expose themselves to the virus in order to make a living impacts the very continuation of the pandemic. Overall, the economic crisis is a result of the mismanagement problem.

 References:

1. Gurgel Aline do Monte, Santos Carla Caroline Silva dos, Alves Kelly Poliany de Souza, Araujo Juciany Medeiros de, Leal Vanessa Sá. Estratégias governamentais para a garantia do direito humano à alimentação adequada e saudável no enfrentamento à pandemia de Covid-19 no Brasil. Ciênc. saúde coletiva  [Internet]. 2020  Dec [cited  2021  Apr  25] ;  25( 12 ): 4945-4956. Available from: http://www.scielo.br/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S1413-81232020001204945&lng=en.  Epub Dec 04, 2020.  https://doi.org/10.1590/1413-812320202512.33912020.

2. PASSOS, R.G. “A carne mais barata no mercado é a carne negra”: saúde da população negra em tempos de COVID-19 no Rio de Janeiro. In: MOREIRA, E. (Org.). Em tempos de pandemia: propostas para defesa da vida e de direitos sociais. Rio de Janeiro: UFRJ, Centro de Filosofia e Ciências Humanas, Escola de Serviço Social, 2020. Cap. 12, p. 90-96. (versão on-line). Disponível em:<https://pantheon.ufrj.br/bitstream/11422/12346/1/EMoreira.pdf&gt;. Acesso em: 11 jul.2020.

3. Albuquerque Mariana Vercesi de, Ribeiro Luis Henrique Leandro. Desigualdade, situação geográfica e sentidos da ação na pandemia da COVID-19 no Brasil. Cad. Saúde Pública  [Internet]. 2020  [cited  2021  Apr  25] ;  36( 12 ): e00208720. Available from: http://www.scielo.br/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S0102-311X2020001203005&lng=en.  Epub Jan 11, 2021.  https://doi.org/10.1590/0102-311×00208720.

About the author

Daltro Moreira Iori is a medical student with a scholarship from the University for All program of the Federal Government of Brazil, at the University Center of Maringá, Paraná, Brazil. Member of IFMSA Brazil Unicesumar, scientific director of the Academic League of Urgent Emergencies and Trauma of Maringá, member of the Academic League of Infectious Diseases of Maringá and of the Humanizart extension project. Researcher for the Institutional Scientific Initiation Scholarship Program (PIBIC) in the area of ​​HIV / AIDS and sexual rights and diversity, as well as passionate about public health and the entire intrinsic universe it carries.

Karine Franco is a medical student at the University Center of Maringá, currently on the sixth period. Member of American Academy of Neurology, former marketing director and member of the Academic Neurology League of Maringá, member of Dermatology Academic League and monitor of anatomy at University Center of Maringá. Infatuated with evidence-based medicine and doctor-patient relationships.

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