With videos recorded from his own mobile phone in the Ngäbere language, with pictures of when he gets vaccinated, and with signs that his people understand such as “Ja Krägäi Migue” which means “get vaccinated”, is how a Costa Rican Social Security Fund (CCSS) employee seeks to convince his neighbours that getting vaccinated is good.
Navil Atencio Rodríguez is 56 years old and has been working for the CCSS for 26 years. He is a primary care assistant (ATAP) in the health area of Golfito and works at the Alto Conte babais in Punta Burica.
This Social Security worker is not only a very active official in his health area, but also has his free time, mobile phone and even mobile data to try to persuade his entire indigenous family to follow the protocols against covid-19 and other diseases.
“My work is carried out within the Ngöbe territory, the people to whom I provide care are one hundred percent indigenous. I have had many experiences, and every day I have had to do my best to try to modify or change the thinking of our indigenous populations. For example, they see vaccinations as something unimportant, and my role as an official of the Fund and as an indigenous person is also to convince them that the different vaccinations are useful and necessary to prevent diseases,” says Navil Atencio.
The worker says that little by little he has won the affection and respect of his community and neighbouring villages. In his Ngöbe territory they already know who he is, they are certain that he wants their wellbeing and that he is not looking for changes in their culture but in the quality of life of the people.
“I have talked to them about vaccines against influenza, tetanus, pneumococcus 23. Now I am taking up the challenge of the vaccine against covid-19 and this has cost me exhausting work, conversations and discussions to convince them once again. The problem is that they see the pandemic as something temporary, so I have been looking for tangible ways to persuade them to see that at least it is not a bad thing; that is why I asked them to record me so that when it is their turn to be vaccinated against covid-19, they do not put up resistance,” shared ATAP.
For Dr. Rosa Gallardo de Villa, Nursing Coordinator of the Brunca Health Services Network Directorate, the work done by Navil and his colleagues in the indigenous areas is hard work, exhausting, and requires a lot of convincing to bring about a change in the mentality of the indigenous people, who in the end are their own flesh and blood.
“Navil is a very creative person and cares a lot about his community, he is always looking for strategies with schools and community leaders to achieve his goals and of course he succeeds, he is a worker you would want to clone,” said Dr Gallardo.
The same concept is shared by Nursing Director Edita Caballero Núñez of the Golfito health area, who is full of gratifying words about the collaborator who gives his all.
“Thank you is an understatement; this colleague gives more than what is asked of him, he is always ahead of the game. Good work Navil! Keep giving your heart, soul and life as you have done so far,” shared Dr Caballero.
The Brunca region has 130 ATAPS distributed in the six health areas and specifically in the indigenous territories of Buenos Aires, Coto Brus, Corredores Pérez Zeledón and Golfito there are 15 of them.