COVID-19 Pandemic

Update from Airborne Aid

Airborne Aid specialises in connecting people, places, and supplies in order to deliver tailored medical aid directly to places in need, and to reduce waste. All of this is not possible right now.



Airborne Aid runs entirely on the generosity of our donors and volunteers.

With borders closed, travel suspended, and programs cancelled, Airborne Aid’s primary zero-waste transport method - utilising the excess baggage space of travellers - is unavailable.

Our supply of surplus, donated medical supplies has also dried up.

Further still, our day-to-day operations are powered, from start to finish, by medical professionals. At the moment, as essential workers on the front lines, these individuals are in short supply of the time, expertise, and resources that we rely on to operate.


What will this mean?

More than anything, this breaks our hearts, because we know this pandemic will devastate developing countries far more than developed countries. This is due to a number of reasons, including but not limited to weaker healthcare systems, limited access to water and sanitation, and limited ability to isolate.

We are also acutely aware that what we across the developed world are currently experiencing in the face of COVID-19 is what much of the developing world experiences every single day, facing all manner of diseases and ailments, and additional challenges.

What we are grateful for is that this pandemic demonstrates in no uncertain terms how utterly essential single-use equipment for quality and efficacious medical care.

Moreover, it demonstrates that we must not waste any of our medical supplies, whether single-use or reusable.


Where does this leave us?

We do not know what the remainder of 2020 will bring.

In the meantime, while we buckle down, hold each other close, and do everything we can for those in need, we rely on the specialists in this area - major international organisations and government agencies - to do what they do best.

We look forward to returning to our regular zero cost, zero waste operations as soon as possible.

Read: COVID-19 in the developing world and indigenous communities

Amanda Coletta and Heloísa Traiano

April 1, 2020

Mario Nicácio, a local leader, said the atmosphere is tense. There are shortages of masks, hand sanitizer and medical equipment. As many as 10 people live in a single dwelling — fertile conditions for viral spread.


Nicácio, a member of the Wapichana people, said the pandemic is altering traditions. Members of the same tribe often share a single container of caxiri, a traditional drink.


“We know our collective way of living is a breeding ground for the virus,” Nicácio said. “And we are guiding the population to adapt temporarily.”

Confirmed cases and deaths are swelling in Brazil, where President Jair Bolsonaro last week dismissed covid-19 as a “little cold,” contradicting his own health officials. Bolsonaro wants to open the Amazon to more commercial development, to the dismay of many of its indigenous inhabitants.

Sofia Mendonça, a public health expert at the Universidade Federal de São Paulo, has worked with indigenous tribes in the Amazon for four decades. She said respiratory diseases are a leading cause of death among Brazil’s 850,000 indigenous people.


“[They] will face this pandemic with great difficulty,” Mendonça said. “It can cause a serious reduction in this population.”


Underscoring the fears, a doctor who worked with an indigenous tribe in the Amazon tested positive for the coronavirus last week.


W. Gyude Moore

April 12, 2020

On April 6, there were reports of a clash between youthful traders at a temporary market and police enforcing Covid-19 lockdown restrictions in Kaduna, Nigeria. It left five dead with multiple sustaining gunshot wounds. This follows movement ban related shooting deaths in Rwandaone in South Africathe death of a teenager in Kenya and two sustaining gunshot wounds in Uganda.


These clashes will only increase and escalate if the choice remains for daily wage earners to stay at home and face inevitable starvation or venture out and face the wrath of security services. The response to the Covid-19 pandemic that has become standard in high and middle-income countries is, in its current form, unfeasible, impractical, and arguably counterproductive in low income countries, especially across sub-Saharan Africa.


These difficulties, however, do not make these social distancing measures any less necessary.  We need these public health measures. Our challenge is to adapt them to informal economies which lack a comprehensive safety net to support those shut in.


United Nations

Department of Global Communications

"These are places where people who have been forced to flee their homes because of bombs, violence or floods are living under plastic sheets in fields or crammed into refugee camps or informal settlements. They do not have homes in which to socially distance or self-isolate", he said.


“We must create the conditions and mobilize the resources necessary to ensure that developing countries have equal opportunities to respond to this crisis in their communities and economies,” he said, stressing that “anything short of this commitment would lead to a pandemic of apocalyptic proportions affecting us all.”

The Secretary-General urged G-20 leaders to commit to ban tariffs, quotas or non-tariff measures, and remove restrictions on cross border trade that affect the deployment of medical equipment, medicines and other essential goods to fight the epidemic, also encouraging the waiving of sanctions imposed on countries to ensure access to food, essential health supplies, and COVID-19 medical support. “This is the time for solidarity not exclusion,” he stressed.


Ricardo Hausman

March 24, 2020

As horrific as this sounds, the situation in the advanced economies is likely to be much more benign than what developing countries are facing, not only in terms of the disease burden, but also in terms of the economic devastation they will face. And while two academic communities – public-health experts and macroeconomists – are starting to talk to each other, unfortunately the conversation has mostly involved only the advanced countries.


The public health community has made the differential equations that govern contagion almost mainstream. People now talk about the role of the R0 factor (the average number of new infections caused by each infected person) and about the need to flatten the contagion curve through social distancing and lockdowns.


Macroeconomists initially saw the pandemic as a negative demand shock that would need to be countered by expansionary fiscal and monetary policies to support aggregate spending. Soon enough, many of them realized that this shock is different. Unlike the 2008 global financial crisis, which led to a collapse in demand, the COVID-19 pandemic is first and foremost a supply shock. That changes everything.


J.P. Linstroth

March 20, 2020

The “developing world” is often left behind in the medical treatment of epidemics and other diseases, whether these are HIV-AIDS, Cholera, Black Fever, or Tuberculosis, and so on. These are the countries, what President Trump once called “sh**hole” countries, those in the southern hemisphere, below the Equator. To this day, they are still exploited by the first world for their natural resources and for their cheap labor through beneficial trade agreements with the first world, namely with the United States, Canada, Europe, Japan, Australia, and New Zealand. As medical anthropologist and physician Paul Farmer stated: “The idea that some lives matter less is the root of all that is wrong with the world.”


In other words, when we speak of epidemics, and even pandemics like the Coronavirus (COVID-19), we must understand that medical care is unequal in our world today. We must understand that “power structures” control who gets medical care and who does not. We must understand that so-called “first world nations” will be treated for the Coronavirus and in all likelihood the “developing world” will be left behind.

All you have to do is travel to Haiti, or rural India, or Uganda, or a favela in Brazil, or a Palestinian refugee camp in Lebanon, and there you will encounter why such inequalities are all too evident. It does not have to be this way. However, what we know is that in our post-colonial world, the same sorts of inequities from the colonial world have remained, and most probably will continue to remain for the foreseeable future.


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