Da esquerda para a direita: Altair Lira (ABPN), Joilda Nery (ISC/UFBA), Edna Araújo (Uefs) e Eduardo Ribeiro (UFBA)

According to data from the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics (IBGE), the black population is 2.7 times more likely to be a victim of murder in Brazil. Blacks are also most affected by poverty-related diseases such as leprosy and tuberculosis. To discuss the scenario of racial vulnerability in the country, researchers from the Institute of Collective Health (ISC) promoted the “I North-Northeast Seminar on Black Population Health: An Interdisciplinary and Intersectional Approach”. The event was held on November 28 and 29, 2019, at the Federal University of Bahia (UFBA).

The seminar was attended by researchers, managers, health professionals, representatives of social movements and community members interested in strengthening the exchange of the two blackest regions of the country. According to the IBGE, 73.7% of the northern population calls themselves black or brown; in the Northeast, the percentage is 69.2%.

The event highlighted studies that point to the prevalence of racism in relationships of violence and disease neglect. One of the researches discussed investigated police approaches in three northeastern capitals (Salvador, Fortaleza and Recife) and concluded that the choice of “suspects” by military police may be directly linked to the color / race of the youths approached.

“Racial segregation and racism, present in the structure and relational dynamics of Brazilian society, as well as its denial or even a certain naturalization, authorize this decision-making (approach) and the way the police act truculently towards black youth” , highlighted Professor Leny Trad, coordinator of the Integrated Program for Research and Technical Cooperation Community, Family and Health – FA-SA (ISC / UFBA), who led the study.

Data from the 2019 Atlas of Violence, prepared by Ipea in partnership with the Brazilian Security Forum, also reveal that blacks represent 75% of homicide victims in the country. For Professor Edna Araújo, from the State University of Feira de Santana (Uefs), who attended one of the seminar’s tables, the discussion about the vulnerability of this population goes far beyond what the numbers can calculate.

“We cannot be contaminated by the trivialization of death. Homicide victims have a story that needs to be taken into account. We need to understand that human life has value regardless of the phenotype people have, ”he said.

For the historian Eduardo Ribeiro, the link between homicides and drug trafficking, besides authorizing the State’s action, has contributed to desensitize society in relation to the murders. “You have to think of the places where these deaths are produced and observe with other lenses. Otherwise, we are reinforcing this colonizing and genocidal project, ”he said.

The scratch has color

“Black children are 92% more at risk of leprosy than white children.” The warning comes from Professor Joilda Nery, ISC / UFBA professor and one of the main authors of the largest research ever conducted on the subject in the world . With a database of 100 million Brazilians, the study was published by the international magazine The Lancet Global Health in July this year.

According to the teacher, this and other researches related to neglected diseases show racism among the main social determinants of the health-disease process, along with other variables such as poverty and poorer sanitary conditions.

The same study also indicates that residents of the North and Midwest regions of Brazil are 5 to 8 times more likely to get leprosy. The risk is 34 times higher for children living in the north of the country compared with those living in the southern region.

To broaden the debate on health in the North region, the seminar was attended by Professor Hilton Pereira da Silva, from the Federal University of Pará (UFPA). He drew attention to the living conditions of quilombola populations, which face greater difficulty in accessing basic health services in that region, and pointed out challenges in the elaboration of public policies.

“There is a need for managers to understand the complex territoriality of quilombos for the planning of demands and access to services,” he said. According to the professor, it is necessary to expand partnerships with social movements to strengthen and guarantee the right to health in these spaces.

The event also gave rise to discussion around sickle cell disease, a name used for a group of hereditary disorders that cause the deformation of red blood cells in the blood. According to the Ministry of Health, about 1,500 children are born every year with the disease, which is more prevalent in the black population.

The data were presented by Altair Lira, representative of the Brazilian Association of Black Researchers – ABPN, who highlighted the struggle of families to obtain treatment in the country. For him, the negligence in relation to sickle cell disease can be identified even by the time span of almost 100 years between the first research and the emergence of care.

“We are talking about a Brazilian state that turned its back on all data and all information, because it was a prevalent disease in the black population and, therefore, did not deserve care,” he criticized.

Expanded Vulnerability

Health vulnerability can be even more cruel to the black homeless population. The subject was discussed by Edcarlos Venâncio, representative of the Street Population Movement, who shared experiences on the work carried out in Feira de Santana. Actions range from general medical consultations to prenatal care to homeless people in the city.

He also warned of the need for a more humane welcome, especially for those suffering from mental disorders. “We need to establish trust, sensitivity, patience and, above all, respect for these people,” he noted.

The proposal for the seminar is an initiative of the Integrated Community, Family and Health (FA-SA) and Population Health Epidemiology and Impact Assessment Programs of the Institute of Collective Health (ISC / UFBA), in partnership with Procad-AM in which UFBA, UFPA and Uefs participate, in addition to the support of the Racism and Health working group of the Brazilian Association of Collective Health (Abrasco).

For ISC / UFBA Deputy Director Professor Darci Neves, in bringing the demands of the black population, the event directly dialogues with the university’s role in the pursuit of academic excellence and social commitment. “What we are seeing at this moment is the manifestation of a majority segment of our population in search of their rights and claiming what was taken from them,” he says.

Other themes

On the second day of the event, the seminar discussions extended to the auditorium of the UFBA Institute of Collective Health, where two more tables were held with the themes: “Decolonizing collective health: new approaches, aesthetics and territorialities” and “Health of the Traditional People ”.

You can watch both sessions in full through the video below.

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