Tarcila Rivera Zea, member of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, expressed concern about the elimination of the Indigenous Peoples’ Directorate of the Ministry of Health of Peru.
At the beginning of March, a decree signed by president Pedro Pablo Kuczynski revealed the new organizational structure of this ministry, where the office responsible for preventing, controlling and reducing the risks and damages to the health of indigenous peoples disappeared.
In the letter, Rivera Zea reminded President Kuczynski that last year the Peruvian State submitted a report to the UN in which it described the creation of this Directorate as an important advance to achieve a health system that responds to the diversity and issues of the indigenous population in Peru.
The indigenous activist described the event as “a serious reversal of the progress made by our government regarding compliance with commitments undertaken through conventions“. These included the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and ILO Convention 169, both of which were signed by Peru.
She also recalled that the Ombudsman’s Office has warned of the persistent and acute presence of diseases such as anemia, malnutrition, tuberculosis and HIV / AIDS among the indigenous population. In the past, the Office of the Ombudsman has also emphasized the need for a high-level body to coordinate health care for indigenous peoples.
Rivera Zea joined the Ombudsman’s Office, and various indigenous and civil society organizations, who have publicly demanded that the Kuczynski government restore the Directorate of Indigenous Peoples in the organic structure of the Ministry of Health.
The indigenous activist also expressed her wish that the State “to continue its progress in the acknowledgement of our ethnic and cultural diversity; and to permit it to continue acknowledging the rights of the indigenous peoples“.
The letter has also been forwarded to the United Nations indigenous affairs body, the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), of which they are expected to speak on the matter.