Stars of BBC ‘Tribe’ series hit by disease epidemic

August 20, 2007

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The Matis Indians of Brazil, stars of tomorrow’s episode of ‘Tribe’ on BBC TV, are facing an epidemic which has already killed members of this tiny tribe.

The hit series returns to the UK’s TV screens tomorrow with presenter Bruce Parry’s visit to the Matis.

The Matis and many other tribes, including at least six uncontacted groups, live in the Javari Valley in the Brazilian Amazon. Ninety percent of Indians in the area suffered from malaria in 2006. A study of 306 Indians showed that a staggering 85 percent had had contact with the hepatitis A virus, while 56 percent were carrying hepatitis B and 25 percent hepatitis C.

As Parry will describe in tomorrow’s film, the Matis were devastated by western diseases after they were first contacted in the 1970s. Over half of the Matis died in the year following contact. Their numbers have risen from a low of 87 to around 300 today, but local Indian spokespeople say that the Brazilian government is not doing enough to protect their health.

Survival’s campaigner Fiona Watson has visited the Matis. Watch her video blog here.

The Matis feature in a short film soon to be released on Survival’s website, narrated by Julie Christie. The film is part of a major Survival campaign on uncontacted tribes to be launched on 29 August.

Visit the Tribe website

For further information contact Miriam Ross on (+44) (0)20 7687 8734 or email [email protected]

Brazilian Indigenous People