The Orinoco Delta Warao Indians



This is only one example of the health problems facing The Warao Indians living in The Orinoco River delta In Venezuela. The Delta is inaccessible by road and medical facilities are almost nonexistent or very poorly equipped. Regular visits by Doctors and good clinics to take care of these original inhabitants of this region is urgently needed.


We are a family of 12 and we have one thing in common, we all have Tuberculosis. My case is more severe than the others and they keep shuttling me between my house and the hospital in Tucupita every few month (2 hours by boat).  
  The problem is that most of our community members have Tuberculosis, and as the Doctor said one time it does not work to treat only one member of our village while almost everyone is infected. We need medical help urgently here I already lost 2 brothers in the past.
  Robert died on June 15th/2001.  


Servelion Mendoza, Representative from The Warao Indian Tribe in El Guamal, Delta Amacuro, Orinoco Delta, Venezuela.


Do you know what is Tuberculosis ?

Its a disease our people suffer from, its like a cold, they loose weight, and the person end up dying.

Do The Warao Indians suffer a lot from Tuberculosis?.

Yes, a lot, there is a high rate of this disease within my people.

Does Tuberculosis affect a lot of areas in the Delta?

I am sure it does, I have been all over the Delta, it is something that affects entire families every where, specially the kids and old people who are less resistant.

How many families approximately are infected by Tuberculosis in your community?

In the community that I belong to, there are about 10 families infected, that is about 80 persons who knows they have this disease, the rest of the community (including me) ignore the fact that we might be infected, only time will tell.

When someone knows they are infected and presents symptoms, What do they do in this case?

Here the the Warao Indians do not know when they have tuberculosis, when they feel ill they prepare bush tea from a tree bark, it does not cure but some how it controls the disease. When the disease becomes worst they get a Wisidatu or Maraquero (shaman, medicine man) to get their health back with songs and prayers. For those who decide to go to the city they get help from a near by tourists camp that operates in the region, but hardly anyone want to go to the city.

When did you know about this disease?

This disease has been always with us as far as I could remember , but now our people know that it is called Tuberculosis.

How many people received medical treatment for this disease in your area ?

About 6 persons, 4 kids and 2 adults.

Was the treatment successful ?

Those who followed the treatment as it was prescribed by the Hospital in Tucupita are getting a little better, but not in the case of Robert, I do not know what happened, he had progressed for a while but now he is in bad conditions.

Do everyone in your region have the possibility to go to the City for treatment ?

Yes they have, but it is not easy for everybody.

If they have the possibility to have access to medical treatment in the city why do not they seek it ?

The transport is no problem, we are limited financially, and many of us are afraid to go to the city, they prefer to have protection from their shaman.

What kind of help the Warao Indians receive in this situation?

With very little help, the near by tourist camp and the shaman, and some help from the Hospital in Tucupita which is not much.

What kind of other disease the Warao suffer from in The Delta ?

Besides Tuberculosis, diarrhea, vomiting, and fever.

What do think is a good solution for this problem at the present time ?

We would like to receive weekly medical assistance, to check and help my people with their treatment and it would be much better if we have a doctor living in the region, and a clinic with personal and medicine.

What do you think about the case of Roberto ?

The case of Robert is one of many cases, and in the name of all the Warao Indians I hope you can help us in any way, we really need your help.


Servelion Victor Mendoza


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