Brazil Starts Emergency Program to Save Indian Kids

The United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef) wants to provide indigenous tribes, in the South region of the state of Mato Grosso do Sul, Brazil, with access to safe water and vitamin A, to avoid that their children die from diarrhea and malnutrition.

With this objective, Unicef launched yesterday, in partnership with Brazilian National Foundation of Health (Funasa), a national campaign to raise funds.


For the first time, the Fund is making a campaign focused on indigenous groups. The campaign will last a month, and according to the Fund’s project manager, Halim Antonio Girarde, it will help the emergency measures developed in the Dourados tribe, where 11 thousand people live. 62% of these tribes do not have access to safe water.


“Unicef is trying to contribute to stop these deaths. And one way of doing it is by offering good quality water,” he said.


The Ministry of Health, with Unicef’s support, will offer, still this month, emergency Vitamin A to all indigenous children, from 6 months to 5 years of age – around 9,562 – in other areas of the country, as well. Vitamin A deficiency reduces children’s resistance to infections and raises mortality risk.


The death of 18 children belonging to the Guarani-Kaiowá tribe, between January and March of this year, caused by diseases related to malnutrition, gave the program in Dourados a status of emergency humanitarian crisis, according to the Unicef. The number of deaths in these three months is equivalent to that registered during all year of 2004.


Translation: Andréa Alves

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