The Essex project, led by Professor Ileana Steccolini, is one of 40 studies funded by the UK Research and Innovation Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) and the Newton Fund.
The project will see Professor Steccolini working with communities in Sao Paulo and Belem, as well as with local NGOs. Through interviews, she will identify successful strategies to cope with the consequences of the pandemic and make interventions such as vaccinations more effective.
This work will also inform planning for future interventions, in particular vaccine delivery.
We talked to Professor Steccolini about why Brazilian communities face unique challenges, and how her work can help ensure they get the support and healthcare they need.
What are the objectives of the project?
“We aim to identify ways in which public interventions (such as vaccinations, or other actions to cope with covid) can become more effective in vulnerable communities when resorting to co-production, ie, when citizens’ collaboration is central for the success of such interventions.
“Many social interventions for COVID-19 prevention and control require co-operation from citizens to be effective. Local communities and their local leaders know their daily needs, their areas, and the social environment better than the government. To cope with COVID-19, and similar future crises, members of the vulnerable community need to be engaged as part of the solution, and given voice.
“Our proposal aims to understand how to enact effective co-production with members of these communities and municipal councils. The project will promote an exercise on co-production to design tactics and solutions to prepare neighbourhoods for facing future interventions, and in particular vaccine delivery.”
What are the unique challenges that make responding to Covid-19 in Brazil difficult?
“Brazil has a long history of disconnection and lack of trust between vulnerable communities (slums and favelas) and public authorities, due to diverse reasons, including failures in service delivery, overuse of violence by the police force, and the presence of militias.
“This makes public intervention to cope with pandemics, as well as other emergencies, more challenging. Yet, many social interventions for COVID-19 prevention and control require co-operation from citizens to be effective. Looking at how co-production can work in local vulnerable communities in Brazil will allow us to learn more general lessons, to be applied both to the local communities under investigation, as well as others with comparable features.”