Altamira DSEI encourages home birth in Asurini villages in Pará
A traditional practice of health carefor women is being rescued by the Altamira Indigenous Special Health District (DSEI) in Asurini villages in Pará. Indigenous midwives are returning to work in the communities, avoiding the removal of pregnant women to the cities at this time of pandemic caused by COVID-19.
The women of the village gather to weave a net of cotton threads for the birth of the new member of the community. The mothers, aunts and grandparents who wait for the time of birth of a family member manually weave the hammock. The hammock holds the woman at the time of birth and there she will feed her baby for the first time with the support of the village women.
Nurse Vanessa Barroso, responsible for the project at DSEI Altamira, says she has been bringing women together in conversation groups to hear about their practices and knowledge in order to integrate traditional knowledge with Western medicine, so she was able to rescue the tradition of the birth network. Since February, three births have occurred with the support of indigenous midwives and the Indigenous Health Multidisciplinary Team (EMSI).
"The objective is to value and rescue indigenous midwives and the traditional knowledge of shamans in the healthcare of the women, respecting all life cycles. Until last year, many indigenous people used to go to the city, but with the pandemic, the home birth practice became more present. Women are more confident and secure in carrying out home births, avoiding displacement from villages to the cities," she says.
According to the nurse, women take care of culture, handicrafts and family health, so their role is important in valuing and rescuing traditional indigenous knowledge. Allied to this, the Indigenous Health Multidisciplinary Teams (EMSI) advise on the importance of folic acid and iron sulfate in pregnancy; they carry out gestational monitoring and child development and the passage from childhood to youth and adult life.
EMSI has also carried out vaccination against influenza and measles during periodic visits to indigenous communities. Health professionals carry out basic care services, screen patients with symptoms similar to those of COVID-19, perform rapid tests and provide guidance on treatment and care to prevent the spread of the disease. A psychologist has also been working with village leaders and people to provide emotional support in this time of pandemic.