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UNICEF promotes the first Indigenous Baby Week in Brazil

© UNICEF Brazil/2013
A Ticuna family receiving the birth certificant of the baby that was born this week.

In the period of June 10t  to 14th,  the municipality of Tabatinga, in the state of Amazonas,  will hold the First Indigenous Baby Week among the Ticunas communities, the most numerous indigenous  group in the country.

BRASILIA, Tabatinga, June 10th., 2013 - Will be held from today to June 14, in the municipality of Tabatinga, in the state of Amazonas in the Brazilian Amazon region, at the Alto Rio Solimões, the first Indigenous Baby Week in the country. The goal is to contribute to the improvement of early childhood indicators among Ticuna people, the largest indigenous group in Brazil, promoting and guaranteeing the rights of pregnant women, mothers and children. Along the week, lectures, vaccination campaigns, workshops for health professionals, campaign for birth certificant, and cultural activities such as night with Ticunas lullaby songs will mobilize all the local society.

With the leadership of Ticunas leaders, the event will be held with the support of UNICEF in collaboration with the City Hall of Tabatinga, Ministry of Health / Special Department of Indigenous Health (SESAI), Funai (indigenous governmental foundation for indigenous policies) and UNAIDS/Amazonaids. The event has the strategic partnership of Pampers and RGE.

The Amazon region concentrates 60% of Brazil's indigenous population. Among the 305 ethnic groups in the country, Ticunas are the biggest, accounting for 6.8% of Brazil's indigenous population. Due to this concentration of the largest ethnic group in the country, the region of Alto Solimões River, specifically in Tabatinga, was chosen to carry out the initiative.

According to data from the National Survey of Health and Nutrition of Indigenous Peoples - FUNASA/2009 - the infant mortality rate of the indigenous population is two times higher than the general population. In the North, 41% of indigenous children under 5 suffer from chronic malnutrition, while the national average is 7%. Eight out of 10 indigenous children from 6 to 11 months of age suffer from anemia and 35% of pregnant women are anemic.

Furthermore, the region of Alto Rio Solimões faces serious problems in drug trafficking in the tri-border area (Brazil, Peru and Colombia). The impact of increasing consumption and sale of drugs is already present in indigenous communities.

According to the Special Indigenous Sanitary District (DSEI/SESAI/MS) of the Alto Rio Solimões, the main type of violence faced by indigenous youth is suicide. The suicide rate in the region is eight times greater than the national average, according to the DSEI ARS. In addition, SISVAN (Food and Nutrition Surveillance System) data of the Ministry of Health revealed that almost 15% of indigenous adolescents have very low height for their age because of food and nutrition insecurity. 

Although most of the local indigenous population live on indigenous land, the impact has been greater due to the misuse of land, low production and lack of food and water suitable for consumption. Other challenges are: not valuing indigenous culture, discrimination and interference in religious customs and beliefs, lack of opportunities for the youngs, low education, among others.

"The realization of the First Indigenous Baby Week is a milestone in the history of indigenous peoples of the region. This is because we were able, from the leadership of the Ticunas leaders, articulate the City Hall of Tabatinga, Funai, Ministry of Health/SESAI, UNAIDS and UNICEF, in an intense process of mobilization for real change in the lives of indigenous children in the Alto Rio Solimões", says Antonio Carlos Cabral, UNICEF program officer in the Amazon.

To Cristina Albuquerque, Child Development and Programme of HIV/AIDS coordinator of the UNICEF in Brazil, "this important experience with Ticuna, besides strengthen public policies in favor of the indigenous children from 0 to 6 years old, proves that the strategy of the Baby Week can be carried out properly in any social, cultural and economic context. I hope we can encourage the realization of many other Baby Weeks in indigenous communities."

© UNICEF Brazil/2013
A vaccination campaign is also taking place in the Ticuna`s communities.

Dissemination by indigenous adolescents

About 20 young Ticunas and Kokamas will make all the press coverage of the First Indigenous Baby Week, producing materials, making videos and real-time updating in social networking and in the site of the Indigenous Youth Communicat@rs from Alto Rio Solimões (jovens-ars.com).

These youth participated in Communication workshops, held since last August, with the support of UNICEF and partners as part of the Joint Programme on Food Security and Nutrition for Women and Indigenous Children in Brazil (PCSAN), an initiative of the United Nations with the Brazilian Government. In these events, they learned to conduct interviews, prepare journals, photographing, create radio programs, videos, a website and social networks for Indigenous Youth Network Communicat@rs from the Alto Rio Solimões.

Currently, there are four Indigenous Youth Communication centers in the Alto Rio, located in the municipalities of Tabatinga, Benjamin Constant and São Paulo de Olivenza.

Communication tools are being used as instruments for recording, dissemination, awareness raising, and mobilization of young people around human rights, focusing on the rights of indigenous peoples. Participants were selected by their own indigenous communities, with the support of teachers and indigenous leaders.

The UNICEF initiative also involved local and regional partners, such as the City Hall of the three municipalities, FUNAI ARS, the ARS DSEI (Special Indigenous Sanitary District), indigenous organizations, universities and media companies.

About Baby Week
Baby Week began in the municipality of Canela, in the state of Rio Grande do Sul, in the south of Brazil, which is held annually for 13 years. UNICEF recognized this initiative as a good practice, systematized the methodology and is helping to promote it in hundreds of Brazilian municipalities. The Baby Week has surpassed the borders of Brazil, reaching countries such as Portugal, Argentina and Uruguay.

The spread of the Baby Week nationwide reinforces the importance of the "Commitment to child survival: a promise renewed", an UNICEF initiative and from the governments of the U.S., India and Ethiopia in support of the strategy Every Woman Every Child, released in 2010 by the UN General Assembly. This commitment aims to accelerate the efforts of governments and society to reduce preventable deaths of children under 5 years, with emphasis on the first days of life. When performing the Baby Week, each municipality contributes to this global effort for the survival of small children.

For more information:
Ida Pietricovsky Oliveira,
ipoliveira@unicef.org, UNICEF Brazil, Phone: + 55 91 3073 5700
Daniela Silva,
dsilva@unicef.org, UNICEF Brazil, Phone: + 55 92 9261-0856
Andrés A. López, aalopez@unicef.org, UNICEF Latin America and the Caribbean, Phone: + 507 301 7484
www.unicef.org/lac, http://www.unicef.org.br/

UNICEF works in 190 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence. The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS. UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments. For more information about UNICEF and its work visit:


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