In Cidade de Deus, a favela located in the West Zone of Rio de Janeiro, the pandemic had an impact not only on illnesses and deaths caused by covid-19, but also on the worsening of chronic and mental illnesses. This is the finding of a study by the Construindo Juntos Research Collective, carried out between October 2020 and March 2021, with the participation of 648 residents of the region.
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The survey measured the impact of the pandemic on income and work, education, children and adolescents, physical and mental health, family relationships, social resilience and attitudes about the virus and the vaccine. The responsible collective brings together researchers from Brazilian universities, such as the Fluminense Federal University (UFF), and North American universities, such as the Tufts University.
From the data collected and interviews with residents, the researchers responsible for the study found that more people died of chronic diseases and other diseases than with symptoms of covid in Cidade de Deus. Among respondents, 41 deaths from covid and 59 deaths from other diseases were reported among people living in their homes.
In all, the favela registered 1440 cases and 163 deaths per covid, until this Tuesday (3), according to data from the Unifying Panel Covid in the Favelas.
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According to Mirian de Andrade, a resident and educator at Cidade de Deus, who is part of the Construindo Juntos team, this is an indication that the pandemic has masked other health problems that have already been affecting local residents for decades.
“Until the pandemic, many residents had difficulties in accessing doctors, tests, treatments. During the pandemic, this got worse, thanks to the lack of beds and medical consultations, causing deterioration in several other areas of physical health in the community”, he points out.
Another conclusion pointed out by the study indicates the worsening of mental health illnesses in Cidade de Deus. Among the interviewees, 88% indicated a worsening in emotional problems and, among those who have children at home, 82% indicated that at least one of them suffered from the same issue.
For Jacob Portela, analyst at the Social Management Advisory of Farmanguinhos and collaborator of the research, the pandemic meant a rupture in people’s daily lives, which explains the direct impact on the mental health of the residents.
“Reports from residents indicate that some reasons for the worsening of mental health were social isolation, concern about paying bills, fear of contracting the coronavirus, the deaths of family members and people close to them. The most reported symptoms were stress, anxiety, difficulty sleeping and lack of energy for daily activities”, he explains.
Source: BoF Rio de Janeiro
Edition: Mariana Pitasse