This story excerpt was translated from Portuguese. To read the original story in full, visit Folha de São Paulo. You may also view the original story on the Rainforest Journalism Fund website here.
Contamination of Indigenous people by mercury from illegal mining and lack of assistance prompted the request from the Public Prosecutor's Office; Health Ministry does not respond
For almost six months, the Lula (PT) government has ignored a recommendation from the Federal Public Prosecutor's Office (MPF) for the Ministry of Health to declare a public health emergency in the region of the Tapajós River where the Mundurucu Indigenous Land is located, in Pará. The request from the Federal Prosecutor's Office was made due to the systematic contamination of Indigenous people with mercury from illegal mining operations.
The recommendation was made on April 19, 2023. Documents sent by the government to the MPF show that a public health emergency of national interest was not considered by the ministry, according to the content of these letters, sent in June and July.
When contacted, the Ministry of Health replied, after the report was published, that "declarations of public health emergencies of national importance comply with specific legislation (decree no. 7.616), which does not fit the chronic and historical situation found."
"This is a serious public health and interdisciplinary problem whose short-term measures are already underway on different fronts," says the ministry.
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