Facts & Figures: Peru’s failed state of health

INDIGENOUS COMMUNITIES IN ESPINAR:

  • Amnesty International’s research was carried out with 11 indigenous communities of Espinar: Alto Huancané, Bajo Huancané, Tintaya Marquiri, Pacopata, Huini Coroccohuayco, Huano Huano, Alto Huarca, Huarca, Huisa, Huisa Collana y Cala Cala.
  • The indigenous communities belong to the K’ana Indigenous Peoples.
  • The communities are located in in the area that is directly affected – both environmentally and socially – by the Antapaccay Expansión Tintaya - Integración Coroccohuayco mining project, owned by the Anglo-Swiss transnational Glencore PLC.

FINDINGS OF THE RESEARCH:

  • Blood and urine samples of 150 people were tested for lead, cadmium, arsenic, mercury and manganese.
  • 78% (117 people) had levels of metals and toxic substances higher than the reference values, which represents a risk to their health.
  • More than 58% (88 people) had elevated levels of arsenic in their bodies, which can cause nausea and vomiting, a decrease in the number of red and white blood cells, as well as abnormal heartbeat.
  • More than 29% (44 people) had elevated levels of manganese in their bodies, which can be toxic and build up in the brain, bones, liver, kidneys, and pancreas.
  • More than 12% (19 people) had elevated levels of cadmium in their bodies, which can lead to kidney disease, lung damage and brittle bones.
  • More than 4% (7 people) had elevated levels of lead in their bodies, which can affect almost every organ and system in the body. The effects of lead include anaemia and high blood pressure; kidney damage, weakness in the fingers, wrists, and ankles; and high levels of lead can cause severe brain damage.
  • Scientists have concluded that there is no level of lead that is normal or acceptable in the human body.
  • More than 3% (5 people) had elevated levels of mercury in their bodies, which can be toxic to the nervous system, to the immune system for fighting infection, and to the digestive system, skin and lungs, kidneys, and eyes. Exposure to mercury, even in small amounts, can cause serious health problems.
  • Of the 191 water samples tested for total coliforms, 151 were positive.
  • Of the 151 positive samples, 115 involved water used for human consumption.

VULNERABILITY FACTORS THAT PUT THE HEALTH OF THE INDIGENOUS COMMUNITIES AT RISK

134 households were surveyed:

  • 79% of the people surveyed do not have health insurance and 63.28% indicated that there are no health services in the community.
  • 65% could not obtain all the food they needed and 71.63% did not have enough resources to obtain varied and nutritious food.
  • 9% belong to households of between one and six people with a low level of education: 5.3% did not go to school, 16.5% finished primary school and only 23.8% finished high school.
  • 71% said that they always have enough water and 9.7% said that they only occasionally lack sufficient water. In most households, there is often (58.95%) or never (24.62%) enough water to meet drinking, cooking and personal hygiene needs.
  • 100% of the people surveyed indicated that they are concerned about water. In the first response about what concerns them most about water, respondents indicated that it is access to water (47.01%), water contamination (38.05%) and the change in the taste of the water (13.43%).
  • In a second response, respondents said they are concerned that the water may be contaminated (45.52%), that the water may affect health (36.56%) and the change in colour of the water (5.97%). The majority of respondents (84.32%) believe that the water is not clean and safe.
  • Only 32.33% had ever previously had a laboratory test for metals and toxic substances done.
  • Of the people surveyed who had been tested at some point prior to the study, 67.44% indicated that they had been given the results, although some with a long delay, and 20.93% indicated that they never received their results. Of those who received results, 55.88% understood the results of the analysis and 47.05% did not.

A PUBLIC HEALTH AND ENVIRONMENTAL STRATEGY FOR ESPINAR

The strategy must:

  • Recognize the whole population as vulnerable
  • Include a comprehensive epidemiological monitoring system
  • Include an environmental monitoring programme
  • Include a health care programme in all levels of prevention
  • Ensure the supply of safe, clean water
  • Address the urgency of the health emergency
  • Include a damage assessment and reparations plan