The Brazilian Ministry of Health’s study, Health in Brazil, 2005, reveals that there are more deaths among Indian children than among Indian oldsters.
Over 30% of the indigenous deaths registered in 2003 were of children five years old or younger (659 deaths), while 27.5% were of adults over the age of 70.
According to the study, this phenomenon is unique to the Indian segment of the population. In all other segments (whites, blacks, mulattoes, and Asians), the number of mortalities is greater among the elderly.
Among whites, for example, half the deaths registered in 2003 were of elderly people, while only 5.1 in each 100 deaths were of children five years old or under.
The study underscores that mortality among Indians through the age of 5 "demands the urgent development of health care activities, programs, and policies aimed at this group."
José Maria de França, director of the Department of Indigenous Health in the National Health Foundation (FUNASA), said that the activities of basic health care are helping to change this situation.
"If we maintain this effort at its current level, we shall shortly see a lower mortality level," he affirmed.
Another survey, done by the FUNASA and considering only the Indians who live in villages, indicates a significant drop in child mortality in recent years.
In 2000, there were 74.6 deaths among children for each 1000 live births. This figure was down to 47.7 deaths per 1000 in 2004, and last year, with 68% of the data tallied, it declined even further, to 28.5 deaths per 1000.