The COVID-19 pandemic has undoubtedly affected so many sectors—businesses have closed down, hospitals are in full capacity, and families have little to none to get through their daily lives. To help alleviate these aftermaths, the Pope Francis Hospital Boat has resumed its operations and have returned to the waters of the Amazon River to serve the riverside communities of western Pará (Brazil). The traveling hospital delivers food baskets and hygiene kits to families in the riverside who have become more isolated due to the crisis. (Read: Here’s Why Lolo Kiko Wants You to Help the Poor Amid the Pandemic)
Doctors at the São Francisco University Hospital in Brangança Paulista, São Paulo are serving for emergency assistance at the Pope Francis Hospital Boat.
“We started again because we realized that in the countryside, where the virus hasn’t yet arrived, there were many people with health problems because they couldn’t come to the cities,” Bishop Bernardo Bahlmann of the Diocese of Obidos, Para explained. He added that with the imposed lockdown, people do not have access to medicines, especially those who have been suffering from diabetes and heart problems. Because of that, they have decided to resume the boat’s activities in the municipality with the proper coordination and agreement with the government Health Surveillance and the Secretariat of Health. (READ: 3 Ways Caritas PH Is Giving Support to Filipinos in Need)
“So the boat went to some locations here in the municipality of Óbidos itself and we found that, fortunately, the virus that causes COVID-19 wasn’t present.”
Aside from the health assistance, families also received basic food baskets and hygiene kits from Pope Francis.
The Pope Francis Hospital Boat has two to three expeditions per month, for seven to 10 days. It is equipped for basic health examinations and serve riverside communities in 12 municipalities of Pará along the Amazon River. From August 2019 until the end of May 2020, the Pope Francis Hospital Boat has already provided 43,094 consultations from those who live on the banks of the largest river on Earth.