Five Indian Kids Die for Lack of Medical Help in Amazonas, Brazil

An Indian kid from the Javari Valley In Brazil, the health condition of indigenous peoples in the Javari Valley, west of the state of Amazonas,  is critical. The Indigenous Council of the Javari Valley (Civaja) informs that, between December 3 and 30 last year, eight indigenous people, five of whom were children, died in the region. Civaja intends to report this situation to international organizations.

"We do not believe in promises anymore," said Clóvis Marubo, coordinator of Civaja, an organization whose leaders came to Brazilian capital Brasí­lia in 2007 to report the health situation of indigenous peoples in the Javari Valley to the Minister of Health and other Federal Government representatives. 

Civaja reported that these indigenous people died because they were not removed from their village on time to a place where they could get medical treatment.

"We do not know for sure the cause of their death, whether it was malaria, yellow fever, hepatitis…," said Clóvis, who criticized the non-conclusion of a serological investigation in the region. "We do not know which diseases are infecting our people here," he added.

According to Civaja, the Indigenous Health Care Home – CASAI, located in the city of Atalaia do Norte, is being used as a shelter for over 150 indigenous people today, but it was built to accommodate up to 35 individuals at most.

In indigenous villages, at least 6 children are in serious health conditions and will have to be removed to a different location; among them one of the sisters of a child who died on December 29.

Civaja has reinforced reports against the City Hall of Atalaia do Norte. One of the children who died, Txuki, 6, from the Marubo people, waited for two days for an authorization from the City Hall for a boat to be sent for him.

Due to the delay, Txuki died on December 28 while being taken to Atalaia do Norte. Besides, according to the Council, some people who work in the City Hall are allegedly using funds earmarked for health care services for indigenous people for other purposes.
Promises, Promises

After a public hearing held in Atalaia on August 2007, the 6th Federal Chamber of the Prosecutor's Office, the National Health Foundation (Funasa) and other agencies signed a second Conduct Adjustment Term (TAC) which listed several measures to be taken to improve the situation.

At the end of 2007, Funasa pledged to complete the projects of four base stations (health stations which are closer to the villages) and to install solar refrigerators to keep vaccines and, after they are installed, to complete a serological investigation with indigenous peoples in the region.

According to Funasa, these refrigerators have been already bought, but only one of the new stations is actually being built (the others are expected to begin to be built in late January). Funasa argued that the occupation of Funasa's Regional Coordination Office in the state of Amazonas (Core/Amazonas), on December 2007, has delayed the building activities.

In Civaja's opinion, what actually happened is that another document was signed without any practical results. About 3,000 indigenous people from the Marubo, Mayuruna, Matis, Kanamary, and Kulina peoples live in the Javari Valley, as well as some other non-contacted groups.



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