Rio de Janeiro is known as Cidade Maravilhosa (Marvellous City) and is famous for its beautiful beaches, spectacular mountains, samba-filled nightlife and lively football matches – as well as a large network of sprawling hillside favelas that can have a tough reputation.
Rene Silva, a community partner of the World Mosquito Program, lives in one of those favelas - Complexo do Alemão - and runs a grassroots newspaper called Voz da Comunidades (Community Voice). The Alemão, a conglomerate of towns known as favelas, spreads over several mountains in northern Rio. It is home to nearly 200,000 people, most of whom live in impoverished conditions.
Rene wanted to make a change in his community from a young age, so he started a newspaper and produced stories that traditional papers in the area were unable to report due to the difficulty in accessing the favelas. Rene was particularly successful in amplifying the reach of his newspaper using new technology, including social media.
Rene believes he can help his community through education, media and technology, and is a role model to young people throughout Brazil. Rene was recently named one of the 100 Most Influential People of African Descent, as part of the United Nations’ International Decade for People of African Descent.
The World Mosquito Program partners with local advocates like Rene and community organisations like Voz da Comunidades to help reach local communities and ensure they have the opportunity to make their voices heard and ask questions about our Wolbachia method.
“We are passionate about promoting and reducing these diseases in the community,” says Rene. “The World Mosquito Program, the Ministry of Health, Fiocruz and Voz das Comunidades - we can’t do this alone. We have to do it together.” says Rene.
After an absence of more than 20 years, dengue re-emerged in Brazil in 1981. Over the next 30 years 7 million cases were reported. Today, Brazil leads the world in the number of dengue cases with 3.2 million cases and 800 deaths reported from 2009-2014. Brazil has also been severely affected by outbreaks of Zika virus and chikungunya in the last few years.
The World Mosquito Program is working in Brazil to protect local communities from mosquito-borne diseases such as dengue, Zika, chikungunya and yellow fever.