May 13 (UPI) — At least two teams with Doctors Without Borders have traveled to New Mexico to help Native American communities combat the spread of COVID-19.
Jean Stowell, who heads the COVID-19 response team for the group known in French as Medicins Sans Frontiers, told CNN one team arrived north of Albuquerque in early April to assist the Pueblos and another team arrived in Gallup later that month to work with the Navajo Nation.
Both teams are expected to remain in the state until June.
“At the moment, MSF is focusing on providing technical guidance to healthcare facilities and communities with infection prevention and control. We are also actively engaged with community leaders and other actors to increase access for communities to health promotion and practical education,” said Stowell.
Governor of the Traditional O’odham Leaders Verlon Jose said funding from federal or state governments has “not been a reality.”
“Not all Tribal Nations are receiving the necessary support that they need to address this pandemic. The grassroots-driven donations of supplies are crucial for communities like ours to mitigate the crisis and lack of federal and state assistance in this matter,” Jose said.
Stowell added the organization has assisted in epidemics throughout the world to provide support to people “who have been excluded from health care and emergency response.”
“Historically, the Navajo Nation has not received the same attention and resources as other communities in the U.S. and that has made it particularly difficult for them to respond to this unprecedented epidemic,” said Stowell.