Thursday, September 03, 2009
doctors without borders in the favelas
The excellent NGO Doctors Without Borders (aka Medecins Sans Frontieres) is now working in the famous Complexo do Alemao in Rio de Janeiro, the BBC reports. The group has won the approval of local health authorities to set up shop in the embattled Zona Norte community, which has long been one of the most violent in Rio. The medical group is offering psychological counseling to residents who have lived through gun battles.
Talk therapy, of course, is not structural change. It does nothing to confront the fact that most favela residents are caught between two powerful and heavily armed gangs: the drug traffickers and the police. And it remains unclear if the MSF is also offering medical services in the favela, or whether its efforts only involve counseling. But it is an important first step.
UPDATE: MSF informs me that its doctors provide emergency medical care in Complexo do Alemão. According to the group's activity report, its clinic conducted more than 11,000 consultations in 2008. This is terrific news (and thanks to Pete Masters for sending it my way.)