Six Indigenous children die of malnutrition in Argentina

February 10, 2011

Wichí girls on the Pilcamayo River. © Survival International

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An eighteen-month-old Wichí boy was one of six Indigenous children in the past week to die of malnutrition in Argentina’s northern province of Salta.

Julián Darío Pérez was re-admitted to hospital having been discharged the previous week and was pronounced dead on Wednesday after suffering from ’septic shock caused by malnutrition.’

According to Argentinean newspaper ‘La Voz,’ dozens of children are currently being treated for dehydration and malnutrition in the area.

The Association of Health Care Professionals in Salta has hit back at government accusations that point the blame at hospital staff. ‘They (government authorities) have attempted to free themselves from their political responsibility for chronic hunger and lack of drinking water which are the true causes behind these and many other avoidable infant deaths.’

The Wichí are the native inhabitants of the Pilcomayo river basin in northern Argentina. Their once fertile land has been steadily taken over by cattle ranchers, farmers and colonists leaving the Wichí almost landless and desperately poor.

Like many of the world’s Indigenous peoples, the Wichí suffer disproportionate rates of malnutrition and starvation. Said one doctor in Salta, ‘Remedial neglect is endemic amongst Indigenous communities.’