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Indian Kids Dying of Malnutrition in Brazil

Brazil’s National Health Foundation (Funasa) presented a partial tally of the emergency actions taken in the southern part of Mato Grosso do Sul (MS) in the past two weeks to prevent deaths due to malnutrition among Guarani-Kaiowá Indian children in the region.

The specialists pointed out that the present state of malnutrition reflects the Indians’ scarcity of land and the social problems caused by this “confinement.”


In Dourados, which contains the most heavily populated Indian reservation in the region, around 11 thousand Indians occupy 3,500 hectares.


According to the Funasa, 2,131 children were examined in the villages of southern MS, where around 37 thousand Guarani-Kaiowás live.


The medical teams discovered 21 cases of severe malnutrition, 106 cases of moderate malnutrition, 328 cases of children in a situation of nutritional risk, and 38 cases of excess weight.


The condition of the remaining 1,638 children is considered to be adequate. This, however, is just a preliminary evaluation, based on the results of the relationship between indices of weight and height.


“The situation is under control. Funasa is doing its homework,” declared the technical coordinator of the emergency program, Antônio Fernandes Costa.


Despite this assessment, Funasa warned that the malnutrition problem is critical. “It was evident to everyone that hunger exists in the country, and we all have the responsibility to fight it,” affirmed the director of Funasa’s Department of Indigenous Health, Alexandre Padilha, following the presentation of the tally sheet.


There are, at present, nearly 40 Guarani-Kaiowá Indian children hospitalized at a Center for Nutritional Recovery situated inside the territory of the local Indian Reservation in Dourados.


According to the Funasa, since the emergency measures to prevent more deaths due to malnutrition among indigenous children were initiated, the number of hospitalizations has fallen from 12/week in February to 4 in the first two weeks of March.


Last week, the National Health Foundation and the Dourados Municipal Administration inaugurated a Pediatrics ward in the city’s University Hospital. There are six Intensive Care Units and 15 infirmary beds, and, according to the Funasa, the ward should become a reference in caring for the health of the region’s Indian children.


Translation: David Silberstein
Agência Brasil

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