Malaria and Tuberculosis Are Killing Indian Kids in Brazil

Two children from the Pirahã people died during the first days of January and many other indigenous people are suffering from malaria and suspected tuberculosis.

This was disclosed by the general coordinator of the Tora, Tenharim, Mura and Parintintin Indigenous Peoples' Organization (Opittamp), Elton Rodrigues Paes, who has accused the National Health Foundation (Funasa), of not providing the necessary treatment to the peoples in the River Madeira region, in the municipalities of Manicoré and Humaitá.

According to Elton Rodrigues, the two children who died are from the Cacaia and Santa Cruz settlements, on the River Maici, in Humaitá. One of them was around one year old and presumably died of dehydration as other children in the same settlement have shown the same symptoms. The second child died during childbirth.

The increase in the number of diseases has greatly upset the indigenous people, who are complaining about the lack of treatment provided by Funasa. The last time a Funasa health team visited the Pirahã communities in the River Maici area was in July last year.

Over the last few months, the teams have passed quickly through the settlements, and not stayed there for the time required to accompany the situation of the sick, the indigenous people claim.

According to the Opittamp coordinator, Funasa was notified about the suspected cases of tuberculosis, but has yet to send people to the settlements.

"We have been telling Funasa for more than a year that there has been an increase in illness in our settlements, but nothing has been done and the result is that there are now a lot of indigenous people suffering from malaria, tuberculosis and other diseases.

If we don't get any treatment, there may be more deaths," Elton Rodrigues warned. On the River Marmelos, there are many indigenous people suffering from malaria and other diseases amongst the Tora, Apurinã, Mundurucu and Tenharim peoples.

Up to May last year, the Coordination of the Indigenous Organizations of the Brazilian Amazon (COAIB) managed the Manaus Special Indigenous Peoples' Sanitary District (DSEI) and was responsible for treating the indigenous people in that region.

As the contract was not renewed, Funasa took on the obligation of providing these services to the settlements in the River Madeira region.

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