Doctors Without Borders Assisting With COVID-19 Response On Navajo Nation

May 13, 2020

The Navajo Nation is reporting more than 3,200 known cases of coronavirus and 103 deaths – some of the highest infection rates in the country. Now, Doctors Without Borders has sent a team to the reservation to help with the tribe’s response to the pandemic. KNAU’s Ryan Heinsius reports.

A sign for Navajo Drive is seen against a cloud-darkened Sentinel Mesa in Oljato-Monument Valley, Utah on the Navajo Reservation.
Credit AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster

A team of nine doctors from the organization has arrived on the Navajo Nation in New Mexico. They’re providing technical guidance to healthcare facilities and working to prevent further infection in particularly vulnerable populations on reservation.

Many tribal members suffer from underlying health conditions and lack running water in their homes, which makes hand washing difficult and puts them at an elevated risk to coronavirus. In addition, physical distancing can be a challenge as many Navajo families are close-knit with multiple generations living together.

Doctors Without Borders teams have also recently been sent to New York City, Florida and will soon arrive in Puerto Rico. The organization is known for operating in areas of the world impacted by endemic disease and conflict. The last time it launched operations in the U.S. was after Hurricane Sandy in 2012.