Yanomami health budget restored

The Brazilian government's health authority has reversed an earlier decision to cut funding for health care for the Yanomami Indians.

The Yanomami's land in the Brazilian Amazon is often invaded by gold miners who bring in diseases to which the Indians have no immunity. These invasions have a devastating impact, sparking epidemics which have killed up to 20% of the Yanomami in just a few years.

Since 1997, however, a Brazilian NGO called Urihi has been providing health care to much of the Yanomami population in Brazil and has had great success in controlling disease. But it relies for funding on the Brazilian authorities, and early in 2002, they announced they would cut Urihi's budget by 20%. Faced with this crisis, two Yanomami communities sent letters to Survival, explaining that 'We still need the money for health care because we do not want the Yanomami to start dying again' and 'asking for the strength of your outside support'.

Survival lobbied the government and alerted supporters by email and on our website; many sent letters.

Now the authorities have agreed not to cut funding for Yanomami health, but rather to increase it by 10%. Urihi has told Survival how vital our supporters' letters were, and the Yanomami have expressed their thanks for this help at a crucial time.

View the Yanomami 'letters' in Related Material in the right-hand menu.