Author: Clementine Durain, Monthly Neswletter of the EU Health Policy Platform
Under current COVID-19 guidance, all communities across Colombia are obliged to cremate people when they die, but an exception is made for the indigenous people of Alta Guajira. The Wayuu people's beliefs and cultural practices around death are so important, that the Government now allows them to bury their dead underground or in a vault. The decision was made before COVID-19 reached the rural communities of Alta Guajira, who live in a vast desert of 8200 square kilometres in 22 000 scattered hamlets. Following Government instructions to protect themselves against COVID-19 is really hard for people living in Alta Guajira. Moreover, with temperatures at over 40 degrees Celsius, wearing masks, which are already scarce, is uncomfortable. There is not enough fresh water for people to wash their hands regularly and it takes one hour on foot to reach water sources. The health conditions which have always affected them such as malnutrition, acute diarrhoeal disease, tuberculosis, acute respiratory diseases and maternal and neonatal deaths continue.
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