COVID_19: on the front line in Rome for those without a home

On the front line in Rome and Foggia to offer medical assistance and information on COVID-19 to homeless people and inhabitants of housing occupations and informal settlements. We are ready to start a second mobile team.


The INTERSOS socio-medical team in Rome has started its activities on Tuesday 17 March, to offer health screening, assistance and information on COVID-19 to homeless people and to the most vulnerable who live in informal settlements and housing occupations.


“In 4 days of intervention we met 320 people of the approximately 1700 surveyed between homeless people and inhabitants of the informal settlements present in the identified areas – says Valentina Murino, INTERSOS intervention manager on Rome. “Of these, more than 100 have agreed to be visited.”


The situation of homeless people in the COVID-19 pandemic needs special attention. Many services have been suspended, the renewal of documents is impossibile for the Police Headquarters closed, and this causes fear among those on the street.


“We visited 100 men, women and children. Of these, 34 do not have a general practitioner who can direct and follow them in case of need – underlines Antonella Torchiaro, Medical Referent of the Mobile Unit. “About 20% also suffer from chronic pathologies. With the team we are carrying out health education sessions in an active offer on the road regarding the behaviors to be adopted and the specific rules for the prevention of COVID-19. We distribute hygienic kits and multilingual information material and carry out medical visits, COVID-19 triage and orientation to socio-medical services“.


On March 19, INTERSOS reached an agreement with the Municipality of Rome which establishes an important collaboration and an institutional acknowledgment. The Municipality, the Region and ASL will identify and activate additional structures and beds to protect those in conditions of social exclusion.


“We are ready to double the mobile team on the road, we receive daily reports from both civil society and institutional representatives. Volunteering is not enough,  specific health trainings are needed and it is fundamental to work in synergy with the institutions – continues Valentina Murino. “We must take care of the most vulnerable who are currently doubly exposed to the COVID-19 risk and to isolation. However, there is an urgent need to create dedicated itineraries for those who need to deal with fiduciary quarantine, for those who suffer from chronic diseases and for the most fragile population that needs assistance and a safe place to live.”


The mobile medical team in Foggia also continues its activities, with 524 people assisted in the 8 informal settlements in which INTERSOS has been operating for two years with proximity medicine services: the former Borgo Mezzanone airport runway, the Gran Ghetto of Torretta Antonacci, Borgo Tre Titoli, Palmori countryside, Poggio Imperiale countryside, ex Daunialat factory in Foggia, S. Matteo district, Borgo Cicerone.


“It is a population to be seriously protected: for the sanitation deficiencies they face, for the emergency housing situations in which they live, for the dramatic working conditions, for the chronic difficulties in accessing the health system – underlines Alessandro Verona, Medical Referent of the INTERSOS Migration Unit. “With health action and primary and early prevention in settlements we intend to communicate correct behavior and guarantee indispensable medical protection, guaranteeing everyone’s safety”.

Flavia Melillo
Flavia Melillo