To facilitate the interaction between health workers and indigenous immigrants and refugees, the Fraternity – International Humanitarian Federation (FIHF), in partnership with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), launched the booklet ‘Communication on Health with Warao and E’ñepa indigenous people’, written in Portuguese, Spanish, and the native languages of those ethnic groups.
The Booklet was produced with the collaboration of community members and leaders who contributed to the preparation of the text and graphic contents, and in the translations.
“When talking about health care for indigenous peoples, there is often a difficulty in making oneself understood – explaining what the pain is, in what place, and when it started, for example. The booklet is an important tool and opens the doors for a closer dialogue between the indigenous community and health workers,” explains the field coordinator of the Pintolândia Shelter, Ana Paula.
The booklet also talks about the right of this population to free health care offered by the Unified Health System (SUS), and has a section that provides tips on traditional natural medicine and a little bit about the stories, cosmology, traditions, and culture of these two indigenous peoples.
According to the field coordinator, one of the main points of the booklet is “the search for dialogue between the traditional medicine of the indigenous peoples and non-indigenous medicine.”
Delivery of the handbooks
As part of the closing of celebrations for the International Day of Indigenous Peoples, on August 28, around 200 booklets were presented and delivered by the health council, composed of indigenous beneficiaries of the Pintolândia Shelter. The event also featured traditional dances and songs.
“They dramatized a scene from the Warao daily activities, in which a person suffering from some clinical discomfort, was attended to at a health clinic, after the traditional medicine, through the ‘wisirato,’ the Warao shaman, did not achieve a cure. In this dialogue between the two, the booklet was used as a mediation tool,” says Fernando Fileno, anthropologist of the Fraternity (FIHF).
The team plans to deliver the booklet in the coming months to doctors and other professionals in the area who provide health care in the shelters, and also distribute them in health centers, hospitals, and other spaces used by refugees.