Now Reading


Índios da etnia sateré-mawé da comunidade Sahu-Apé localizada a 80 quilômetros da cidade de Manaus usam mascaras para proteção contra o Covid 19

SATERE-MAWÉ: CIVILITY FACING COVID-19 is the reality in the distant village Sahu-Apé, on the Ariaú River banks, in the Amazonas state, Brazil north region. Masks, gloves and online medical advice have become routine among 71 indigenous people residents.

And, since the pandemic begins, no cases have been registered. Very different from Waikiru village, from same ethnicity, which 10% population of 200 indigenous people have the disease symptoms. Living closer to capital Manaus, and without assistance from Public health, they wisely made use of the forest ancestral products to treat the suspect coronavirus cases and escape death.

The symptoms speed at Waikiru warns: on April 18 there were only 1 suspected contamination in the community. Chief André Satere and his followers are trying to combat each symptom taking different plant species. Meanwhile in Sahu-Apé, since yesterday, May 28th, Chief Sahu is moving his group to another area 20 kilometers away into the forest:

– Close to the village, regions are plagued by coronavirus . Our fear is this: catching! – he told, and explaining that disease has appeared in residents along the Manaus-Manacapuru Road (AM-070), about 40 kilometers from the amazon capital, Manaus.

Six families have already moved to the most isolated area. Chief Sahu wants to take away everyone who is on risk groups, the majority in the village in fact: “They are diabetic, have high blood pressure, asthma, these families we are trying to take there”. He hopes the change to be temporary, up to 20 days, to avoid any kind of contagion. “We are not moving for good, so we are going to this other region until we get through this a little bit.”

The Chief Sahu wisdom extends across unlimited boundaries of knowledge: on May 6, medician Marcos Lucon, who serves at Sírio-Libanês and Albert Einstein hospitals in São Paulo,  Southeast Region of Brazil, granted an online consultation to residents of the Sahu- Apé, four thousand kilometers away, explaining the prevention procedures to COVID-19.

Doctorated from the São Paulo University, Lucon is volunteer at the platform, and, was provided free assistance for 28 dias to low income people since they are even more fragile in pandemic times. For this Satere-Mawé community, were dedicated two days of medical guidance, informed Beatriz Correia Chavedar, also a volunteer at the platform. It was enough to make registration on website use any email address. More than 30 doctors are working hard on it.

Chief Sahu’s village indigenous are driven by Telemedicine to prevent Covid-19 infection.Ricardo Oliveira/Essentia

In Waikiru village the situation is much more complicated. There are symptoms such as shortness of breath, over tiredness, without smell, body aches. And the chief André Satere has difficulties in obtaining specialized assistance, even though he lives a little more than 20 kilometers from Manaus, via BR-174, in Tarumã river region.

To date, there has been no official confirmation wheather the 20 indigenous people on cornavirus suspected have actually contracted the disease or not. More than two decades ago, the Waikiru Satere left their original area, on the border with Pará, to establish themselves near Manaus. Therefore, the federal agency that takes care of indigenous health considers them “villageless” and indicates they must be assisted by Unified Health System (SUS). Except there are indigenous people in this community who do not speak Portuguese or even have an identity card. So how could they take part in white man’s bureaucratic system?

Thus, in Waikiru village, the indigenous people are treating themselves using infusions made by carapanaúba bark and saracura-mirá. In addition to jambu syrup, garlic, lemon, mango peel, mint, ginger and honey.

The disease has not evolved to fatal cases on that community. Actually, there are no scientific studies on the properties of these forest products on the fight against the new coronavirus, but definitily Brazil has the possibility to give them priority since it is a huge and rich territory in raw materials. “A government policy has to be created to encourage the development of medicines based on the Brazilian flora”, encourages Evandro de Araújo Silva, from the Brazilian Academy of Pharmaceutical Sciences.

In any case, the Satere-Mawé are notorious for their informal research: they have “domesticated” the guaraná fruit, such as caferana, a small fruit with a very red and sweet pulp, some bitter background taste, and currently can be find in a industrialized way on whole planet earth.