Ambulances can’t reach Rio de Janeiro favelas

favelas rio de janeiro covid
Favela overlooking Rio’s Rebouças Tunnel. Photo: Antonio Salaverry/Shutterstock

The Covid-19 pandemic has exposed difficulties already known by healthcare teams who work in the favelas of Rio de Janeiro. Ambulances are unable able to assist patients due to risks of violence, and the topographic difficulties posed by the many communities built on the side of Rio’s mountains. Family members and neighbors end up forced to transport sick patients instead — increasing the risk of contamination.

Data obtained by newspaper Folha de S.Paulo shows a dramatic spike in the number of acute respiratory distress syndrome cases across Rio’s numerous favelas. Numbers from four healthcare units in three favelas (Rocinha, Manguinhos, and Catumbi) attest that there were 80 requests for ambulances in March and April this year against 11 in the same months of 2019 (a growth of 627 percent). 

A clinic located in the “Complexo do Alemão” region, ambulances received 50 calls in April compared to just 5 in March.