Health emergency in Parts of Brazil
Indigenous peoples in Danger Again
Amsterdam, 23 January 2023– Brazilian authorities declared a public health emergency in the territories where the native Yanomami community resides in Roraima and set up the Center of Operations for Emergencies in Public Health (COE – Yanomami) reporting directly to the Indigenous Health Department (SESAI).
The committee will be responsible for coordinating the measures to be employed during the state of emergency, including mobilizing resources for the re-establishment of health services and liaising with state and municipal managers of the Unified Health System.
Since last Monday (16), teams from the Health Ministry have been in the Yanomami indigenous territory where around 30.4 thousand people live.
The Health Ministry’s team ”found children and elderly people in a serious state of health, with severe malnutrition, besides many cases of malaria, acute respiratory infection (ARI) and other diseases,“ it was reported.
The teams are to undertake a complete survey of the critical health situation of the indigenous people. The Yanomami indigenous land is the largest in the country, in terms of land area, and suffers from the invasion of miners. The local health crisis has already resulted in the death of 570 children from malnutrition and preventable causes in recent years.
A Ministry of Health survey recorded three deaths of indigenous children in the Keta, Kuniama, and Lajahu communities between December 24 and 27, 2022. Last year, 11,530 cases of malaria were confirmed among the Yanomami.
President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva and various ministers visited Roraima on Saturday, to take a closer look at the situation of the indigenous people. The head of state also created the National Coordination Committee for Confronting the Unassisted Health Care of the Populations in Yanomami Territory to discuss the measures to be adopted.
In this scenario, Brazil’s Health Ministry is pushing to speed up the More Doctors Program and hire more physicians from anywhere to work in Yanomami territory. First, only Brazilian doctors were wanted, then Brazilians trained abroad, and after that, it would include foreign professionals. ”Faced with the need to provide assistance to the population of the indigenous districts, especially the Yanomami, we want to make an announcement in which everyone can sign up at once,” Primary Health Care Secretary Nésio Fernandes explained. The idea is to optimize the work and supply the service in the indigenous districts.
Brazilian federal authorities have plans to send 77 doctors to the Yanomami region. The Special Indigenous Health District Yanomami is one of the most lacking in professionals among the territories, with only 5% of vacancies filled.
Currently, about 700 indigenous people are being treated for severe malnutrition, mainly children.
Meanwhile, four federal deputies from Lula’s Workers’ Party (PT) filed criminal charges Sunday before the Attorney General’s Office (PGR) against former President Jair Bolsonaro and former Minister of Women, Family and Human Rights and Senator-elect Damares Alves (Republicans-DF) for the suspected crime of genocide against the Yanomami peoples in Roraima.
“Children and adults in a situation of high malnutrition, cadaverous, in a reality that should not exist in a country that year after year has a record agricultural production and feeds several nations and peoples,” the document says. ”The responsibility for this tragedy is known in Brazil and in the world. In fact, in addition to malicious omission, (…) [Bolsonaro] is directly responsible for authorizing, encouraging and protecting illegal mining on Yanomami indigenous lands and in various regions of the Amazon,“ it adds.
The deputies claim that Bolsonaro’s attitude has contributed in a decisive way to the ”contamination of rivers (mercury) and, consequently, has resulted in impacts on food (fishing) and sanitary conditions (health) of traditional peoples who live and survive in areas where there should be no mining, legal or illegal.
Signing the document were lawmakers Alencar Santana (SP), Maria do Rosário (RS), Reginaldo Lopes (MG), and Zeca Dirceu (PR).