According to data from the Bahia State Department of Health (Sesab), 70 cases of leptospirosis, an infectious disease transmitted to humans by rodent urine, were confirmed in Bahia in 2018. Of these, 60% were reported in Salvador alone (42 cases). A study by the Institute of Collective Health at the Federal University of Bahia may help to understand the risk for disease in popular neighborhoods of the city. Preliminary results were released on March 29 at the ISC / UFBA auditorium.
The first phase of the survey, which began in 2017, was presented by Professor Yeimi Alexandra Alzate Lopez (ISC / UFBA) and Hussein Khalil, postdoctoral fellow at the Institute, coordinated by Professor Federico Costa (ISC / UFBA). The neighborhoods chosen for the study were Marechal Rondon, Alto do Cabrito, Seine River and New Constituent, all located in Salvador’s rail suburb. Researchers want to know the level of exposure of these communities and how residents see their own vulnerability.
The first data collected indicate, for example, that families with lower incomes are more exposed to infection. The number of cases, confirmed by serological tests, was 63% lower in households that received at least one minimum wage compared to those without income.
The research also wanted to know the level of knowledge of the communities regarding the transmission of the disease. “It is very important to base our project on local knowledge. Among the surveyed residents, 84% pointed to open sewage as the main determinant of objective risk, ”says researcher Hussein Khalil.
At the same time, only 27% considered that state actions, such as garbage collection and action by the Zoonosis Control Center, are important for disease control. For the others, 73% are individual or community actions that help reduce this risk. “It is so much neglect in these communities that people naturalize that effect and think it is their fault, and even end up settling into that situation,” says Professor Yeimi Alexandra Alzate Lopez.
INNOVATIVE YOUNG PEOPLE
Several young neighborhood residents helped with the study, either by taking photographs or collecting information at the sites. Now they are part of the “Young Innovators” project and receive training in citizenship, computing, mapping, and health and environmental training. The goal is to make them multipliers in their own neighborhoods.
“I really want to take this to my community. Lack of knowledge is our biggest enemy there, ”says Alexandre Mota, a resident of the Alto do Cabrito neighborhood and a participant in the project.
The training is held at the UFBA Institute of Collective Health and also in the communities. The “Young Innovators” receive the support of the Polytechnic School and the Institute of Humanities, Arts and Sciences Professor Milton Santos (IHAC) of UFBA in the extension actions, with the co-participation of Fiocruz / BA and University of Liverpool.