Government of Brazil guarantees health care to Brazilian indigenous people
In more than 6,000 villages, indigenous people are served by teams from the Ministry of Health
Since January 2020, even before the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the Public Health Emergency of International Importance (ESPII), the Ministry of Health, through the Special Secretariat of Indigenous Health, has prepared technical documents to guide indigenous peoples, managers and collaborators on prevention measures and first care for Coronavirus infection.
The documents were fundamental in planning the actions that reach the indigenous people today. The National Contingency Plan for Human Infection by the new Coronavirus in Indigenous Peoples details how health teams should act in each case. The Indigenous Special Sanitary Districts have also prepared their respective District Contingency Plans, that is, each Indigenous Special Sanitary District already has a plan for the different situations of confrontation of COVID-19 respecting the characteristics of each people and their specific needs. All this planning and early study results in fast and efficient services directly executed in the villages.
One of the first actions carried out by the Special Secretariat of Indigenous Health was focused on training. To this effect, a series of educational videos directed at the indigenous population, indigenous health agents, indigenous sanitation agents and other health workers about the confrontation of COVID-19 were made available on the website of the Ministry of Health. Indigenous Health professionals were also able to participate in online courses offered by the Ministry of Health focused on COVID-19 prevention. It was prepared in order to prepare the teams to be ready to attend to the cases of infection by the new coronavirus in Indigenous people. Currently, SESAI also produces institutional videos every week about the actions taken in the COVID-19 pandemic and the DSEI produce educational materials in the language of each people.
Support to the professionals - In addition to training indigenous health professionals, the Ministry of Health is also concerned with adequately protecting them. To this end, it has reinforced the stocks of Personal Protection Equipment in the Districts, having provided more than 500 thousand units of masks, gloves, aprons, caps, facial shields and also rapid tests that ensure the testing of all professionals who will enter the indigenous lands to serve the population.
In all cases, the DSEI teams have acted as planned and conducted the isolation of infected persons, suspected cases and the transfer to the state and municipal public network of patients requiring specialized support in hospitals. To this purpose, SESAI employs a large fleet of vehicles, boats and aircraft to safely take indigenous people to the nearest cities that provide the necessary care.
To provide rapid response in emergency situations, the Secretariat authorized hiring 34 rapid response teams to act on each DSEI. The teams, composed of doctors, nurses and nursing technicians, are available 24 hours a day to leave for indigenous territory that may present a sudden increase in cases, thus reinforcing the work of the indigenous health multidisciplinary teams that are already operating normally in the villages.
Monitoring closely what is being done and how it is being done, correcting short-term directions is vital in times of pandemic. The National and District Crisis Committees were created exactly for this and also to allow everyone to participate in this follow-up. Managers, users and employees of indigenous health are participants of the committees.
Strategies - Throughout the pandemic period, the Ministry of Health has developed strategies to improve care and one of the most recent is the creation of the Indigenous Primary Care Unit (UAPI). The units will strengthen the primary care services for indigenous health by providing the treatment of suspected cases of Gripal Syndrome and early identification of cases of COVID-19.
"The challenge of taking care of all Brazilian indigenous people is not easy, but we believe in planning and efficiency as a way to alleviate difficulties. This is how we manage to overcome distances, logistical complications and all the other obstacles to accomplish the mission of providing indigenous Brazilians with decent health," explains Robson Santos da Silva, Special Secretary for Indigenous Health of the Ministry of Health.
Robson also explains that current legislation requires that Indigenous Health services should be of primary care and provided to the inhabitants of approved indigenous lands. "Thus, Indigenous people who live in the cities are served directly in the public health network like all other Brazilian citizens," the secretary explained.
From Monday to Saturday, the Ministry of Health publishes the Epidemiological Bulletin with the situation of COVID-19 among Brazilian indigenous people. The most recent edition indicates that 540 indigenous people are considered cured, 1237 were discharged after testing, 1312 were confirmed and 51 deaths.
To follow the daily work of SESAI in relation to COVID-19, access http://saudeindigena.saude.gov.br