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In the Peruvian Amazon, “forgotten” tribes discover COVID-19 when the vaccine arrives

On October 11, 2021, near Nueva Pukna, Peru, healthcare workers traveled river through the Amazon rainforest to educate and provide medical care to indigenous people in the Uralina community about coronavirus disease (COVID-19). The boat crew will then move away from the fallen tree. Photo taken on October 11, 2021. REUTERS / Sebastian Castaneda

November 6, 2021

Sebastian Castaneda

Mangal (Reuters), Peru – Marianokist, a remote community leader in Peru’s dense Amazon rainforest, was hit by a global epidemic in October when healthcare workers arrived in his isolated village with a vaccine by boat. I knew for the first time.

“We didn’t know about COVID-19. This is the first time we’ve heard about it,” Kist said through an interpreter in the village of Mangal in the vast, less populated Lorate region of northern Peru. Told.

Reuters arrives in Kist’s Uraryna indigenous community with government health workers and members of the International Red Cross after a three-day boat ride along a river starting in the Amazon city of Iquitos, the world’s largest city unreachable by road. Did.

In Manguar, a village upstream of the river, residents hunt and fish for food and live in wooden stilt houses without electricity. Connections with the outside world are minimal, and the local language has been developed in isolation for centuries.

“Brigades haven’t come in years. These communities are really forgotten,” said Gilberto Inuma, president of Fepiurcha, an organization that defends Uraryna’s rights.

Official data show that the wider Uraryna indigenous group, one of Peru’s most isolated indigenous groups, has a population of only 5,800. Not all communities are immune to pandemic knowledge or influence. At least five Uraryna people died of COVID-19, Inuma said.

Traveling upstream highlights the challenge of immunizing indigenous communities in Peru and beyond, and the wider medical access gap for remote groups.

Many community members complained that what they really needed was better ongoing medical services.

In villages without doctors, there are illnesses such as headaches, diarrhea, malaria and conjunctivitis. “We don’t know how to care for patients. That’s our concern.”

Indigenous communities in the Amazon, in particular, have some of the lowest immunization rates in Peru, said Julio Mendigre, who heads the health policy of a group of national health ministry.

He said less than 20% of them are fully vaccinated, compared to about half of the country as a whole.

“When looking at that number, we need to remember that the team has to travel 4-5 hours to administer both doses. That’s the best scenario,” explained Mendigre. It took 26 hours to reach Mangual in 3 days along the river, but the river can dry up or be blocked by fallen trees.

The boat contained a blue cooler box containing 800 doses of Chinese Sinopharm vaccine refrigerated on dry ice. The team will return to November for a second vaccination after more than 600 vaccinations.

“I decided to vaccinate against getting sick,” said one vaccinated Uraryna woman who asked not to name her because the community rarely talks to outsiders. ..

“They bring the illness and tell it because traders may visit.”

(Report by Sebastian Castaneda, additional report and writing by Marcelo Rochabrun, edited by Richard Chang)



In the Peruvian Amazon, “forgotten” tribes discover COVID-19 when the vaccine arrives

Source link In the Peruvian Amazon, “forgotten” tribes discover COVID-19 when the vaccine arrives

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