They ask for oxygen and medicine to face this pandemic that endangers all their people, they fear disappearing. Loreto is out of stock and they are still waiting for the medications, the internees are being prioritized.
The situation of the Ticuna indigenous peoples of the Bellavista community in Callarú is uncontrollable, since around two or three Ticuna indigenous people die in less than 24 hours. The numbers are increasing and to date there are already 7 deaths and more than 50 suspected cases of COVID-19 as confirmed by the obstetrician, Omar Montes, responsible for the only nearby post that attends as best possible (without medications or oxygen) to about 3,000 indigenous inhabitants.
There are many calls for help and support that the Ticuna indigenous peoples, on the Peruvian side of the border, have made. However, the State’s response is slow and death and infections continue to increase. Today they ask for masks, oxygen and all the necessary material to survive.
“There is a community that is located in the Callarú ravine, they have the symptoms of COVID 19, they have a dry cough, they do not feel the taste of food, fever, weakness and difficulty breathing, they have just passed away (…) and the greatest part of the population are with all the symptoms. We only have one health staff, they are adrift without having any type of medicine. They have called me with a cry to send them some medicine, but we have not received anything, please,” said the apu of Fecotyba, Francisco Hernández Cayetano.
AUDIO: TESTIMONY OF FRANCISCO HERNÁNDEZ CAYETANO, FECOTYBA LEADER
The reality faced by indigenous communities in front of COVID-19 is known by the Peruvian government, even in the III INEI Indigenous Census in 2017 it was indicated that more than 88.5% of Amazonian indigenous peoples do not have potable water and 93% do not count with drain inside the home.
Situation that puts them in greater vulnerability even to defend themselves from prevention. Indeed, indigenous communities are facing the disease without any protection or prevention tool.
«In the community there is nothing, at the moment we are suffering, we do not have medicine, we do not have masks, there is nothing at all. We do not need them for tomorrow or in a month, we need them urgently,» added the Ticuna indigenous leader.
A single health post for 2,800 indigenous inhabitants. «Even the bag for the deceased have to be bought by the Ticuna indigenous themselves»
The obstetrician Omar Montes and two other health technicians are the only ones who faces the responsibility of medical caring for the indigenous people of Bellavista de Callarú. Just three specialists for more than 2,800 inhabitants. They only have a pair of gloves and reuse their supplies, they have to wash and re-wash them every time they collect more deaths from this terrible disease.
«As health personnel we do not have the necessary equipment to meet all the needs of healthcare because we have 2,800 inhabitants of the Ticuna ethnic group. We are without medicine, we are attending in some way or another, we need the support of our health ministry, since we are far from the border, we belong to the Icelandic health microgrid. We do not have help so far. We are with more than 50 Covid-19 suspects,” said the obstetrician, Omar Montes, from the IPRESS SANTA ROSA 1.1 Health Post.
AUDIO: OBSTETRA TESTIMONY OMAR MONTES FROM IPRESS 1.1 SANTA ROSA HEALTH POST
There is not only an abandonment to the indigenous sector, but also to the medical sector that cares for them since they are alone and without tools to fight this epidemic. Even Luis Runciman, Dean of the Loreto Medical College, has stated that there are already 166 doctors who have been infected with COVID-19 and 8 of them have died in the Loreto region. The central government does not give him answers and provides help. Today they themselves have to work with what they have, how they can and putting their health adrift.
Despite all the difficulties, Omar Montes has already made two official requests, the first on April 27 and the second, on May 4 to the DIRESA of Loreto, through the Icelandic health microgrid. The request is reiterated that so far and the closing of this note has not yet arrived, aggravating the situation of the doctors and the nearby indigenous population.
“We have made our requests and to date, nothing has come to us. They say that we should not pass the instances when asking DIRESA directly. We are not doing the body lifting since we do not have Personal Protective Equipment. Unfortunately, the relatives themselves bury directly, they buy their bags themselves and bury them because we do not have implements for the collection of bodies.” said Omar Montes and asks for urgent help, with a discouraging voice because he feels that they forgot about him, about his small team and about Bellavista de Callarú.
MEDICATIONS FROM DROP TO DROP: First Lima, then Loreto – Iquitos, then the largest districts and if there is time and there are still medicines, the other places where there are only hospitalized patients. And the indigenous peoples in quarantine?
Orders take more than a week, while more people are expected to die or become ill. Today, neither Iquitos, the main city in the entire Loreto region, has medicines for sufficient internal use, nor do urban residents have medicines. Today the pharmacies no longer sell to the external public, they are out of supply. DIREMID has been posting the same advertisement for a week just outside its premises. THERE ARE NO MEDICATIONS.
According to the executive director of the Executive Directorate of Medicines, Inputs and Drugs (DIREMID) of Loreto, Henry Delgado, they do everything they can, their work is permanent but the pandemic has already overflowed everything they had.
“With the high demand and increase in cases, we consider that everything we can send in a day, in a week is over and a temporary shortage is manifested. We are doing everything possible to acquire these products. (…) We only have to guarantee the inmates. At DIREMID’s pharmacy we are not putting specialized products for the treatment of COVID 19 on sale for the general public, we are only insuring for those who are admitted to hospitals and pre-hospital centers.”
According to the III INEI Indigenous Census in 2017, only 5.0% of indigenous communities in the entire Amazon have Health Centers without hospitalization; and only 1.7% have inpatient health centers.
In other words, the vast majority of indigenous patients will not be able to buy or receive medicines in the main cities, nor will they be able to buy for taking them to their communities in a pandemic. Since DIREMID in Loreto, faced with the outbreak of the epidemic, is out of supply and has prioritized free delivery sectors in pre-hospital centers.
«There are not enough medicines, we are waiting for more products, we are more than everything to ensure the places where we are going to receive patients in pre-hospital care centers,» said Henry Delgado, head of the Loreto DIREMID.
The Director of DIREMID of Loreto, also added that his department has sent to Ramón Castilla, Caballococha and Santa Rosa medicines and safety implements since May 4. However, Omar Montes, who communicated with ORPIO, pointed out that until today, May 11, he has received neither medicines nor PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) to attend to the community, they cannot even do the body lifting. Still awaiting the dispatch of DIREMID.
AUDIO: TESTIMONY HENRY DELGADO DIRECTOR OF THE EXECUTIVE DIRECTORATE OF DRUGS INPUTS AND DRUGS DIREMID DE LORETO
Finally, ORPIO asks the INTERNATIONAL ORGANIZATIONS to help them with medicines, masks and oxygen. The Loreto region is out of supply and indigenous peoples live in oblivion. Loreto is also indigenous and the central government has forgotten us.