Police arrest health officials for fraud

October 26, 2007

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Federal police in Brazil arrested 35 people suspected of misappropriation of funds from the National Health Foundation, FUNASA, in the state of Roraima yesterday.

FUNASA in Roraima is responsible for the health care of Brazil’s Yanomami Indians. The Yanomami had their own health care project, supported by Survival and a local NGO, from 1999 until 2004 when the Brazilian government took it over by decree. Under FUNASA, spending on Yanomami health doubled but disease rocketed.

Yanomami leader Davi Yanomami said today, ‘They have to catch the big fish in Brasília. In Roraima they are small fish but they help to steal. They need to arrest the president of FUNASA and the rector of the Fundação Universidade de Brasília. These people have big eyes, full stomachs and are robbing money from the Indigenous peoples of Brazil.’

Davi spoke from Berlin where he is holding meetings with top German politicians.

It is estimated that the group has diverted over R$34 million (US$19 million) of public funds.