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Society ‘We need immediate intervention’, says Yanomami leader on indigenous people affected by malaria outbreak

Júnior Hekurari Yanomami says that the health situation of the Yanomami people has gotten out of control and is collapsing. (Reproduction)

Bruno Pacheco – from Cenarium Magazine

MANAUS – The president of the District Council for Indigenous Health Yanomami and Ye’kuana (Condisi-YY), Júnior Hekurari Yanomami, said on Friday, 19, in an exclusive interview to CENARIUM MAGAZINE, that the Yanomami Indigenous Land, located in the states of Roraima and Amazonas, needs immediate intervention from the judicial and federal powers because of an outbreak of malaria that has been affecting the health of traditional populations in the area. Last Wednesday, 17, a 3-year-old indigenous child died with symptoms of the disease in a community in the region.

“The situation of the Yanomami people is out of control. We need the authorities, the courts, the federal government to intervene the Dsei (Special Indigenous Health District) Yanomami. They have to intervene, because the children are going [to die]”, reported the indigenous leader.

What has been happening to the indigenous people is a reality already denounced numerous times by the Hutukara Association Yanomami and came to light last Sunday, 14, after the exhibition of a report on “Fantástico”, on TV Globo, reporting dozens of sick individuals, villages without support and noting the threats of mining to the Indigenous Land, considered the largest in Brazil with more than 30 thousand indigenous people.

On Wednesday, 17, the Federal Supreme Court (STF) ordered President Jair Bolsonaro (no party) to explain, within five days, the situation of the Yanomami, clarifying issues related to the nutrition of the people, access to drinking water and health services and medicines provided to indigenous people. According to the decision, the Bolsonaro government must also inform what actions have been taken, and the name and position of the responsible authorities.

Chaotic scenario

To CENARIUM MAGAZINE, Júnior Yanomami said that the indigenous people live a chaotic scenario and that they are unattended by public authorities, even though the territory has received more than R$ 190 million for health care in the last two years. According to him, in addition to child malnutrition, malaria outbreaks and illegal mining, the indigenous people suffer from a lack of medicines and the precariousness of the health units that operate in the region.

Illegal mining ‘Garimpo’ in the Uraricoera River, Yanomami TI. (Christian Braga/Greenpeace)

In 2021 alone, according to the president of Considi-YY, the crisis in the villages has already killed 120 children. Because of this, a team from the Special Secretariat for Indigenous Health (Sesai), the body responsible for coordinating and executing the National Policy for the Health Care of Indigenous Peoples, is in the Yanomami Land elaborating an emergency plan to contain the collapse of the traditional populations.

“Yanomami health is collapsing. The Yanomami Dsei is out of commitment to the population. They knew about these problems since 2019, which has been worsening health; [causing] malaria, malnutrition and other diseases. The Yanomami people were and are unassisted, because the emergency plan they will only put in December. The Yanomami people will pay dearly”, said the president of Considi-YY.

According to the president of Considi-YY, the crisis in the villages has already killed 120 children in 2021. (Promotion/Considi-YY)

According to the indigenous leader, the Yanomami child who died last Wednesday, 17, also suffered from pneumonia. Júnior Hekurari also stated that the child was in a serious condition and had medical attention neglected by the Yanomami Health District (Dsei-Y), an agency that answers to Sesai, because there was not enough fuel to remove the child from the Xaruna community on Yanomami Indigenous Land.

“We, the Condisi, notified the Dsei-Y team at 11:05am. It took 6 hours to save a child”, said Júnior, noting that the helicopter activated by the Dsei-Y arrived in the community only at 5pm on the afternoon of the 17th and the child had already died.

In three months, this is the third case of death of children from malaria in the Yanomami Indigenous Land. The disease has also been affecting adults. On October 1 this year, a shaman from the Makuxi Yano community died at the age of 50 after not receiving medical attention. According to Júnior Hekurari, four children are in a serious condition in a municipal hospital in Boa Vista, Roraima.

“The Yanomami people are drinking dirty water, they are getting sick, and there is no oversight from the federal government. FUNAI itself has no legs to stand on, much less Ibama, which is not very active. The miners are spread all over the Yanomami territory, there are more than 2 or 3 thousand points of miners, of huts, with approximately 20 thousand miners. There are about 60 to 80 flights a day landing in the region. They are leaving and entering freely”, lamented the president of Condisi-YY.