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Flowing with the River: Impacts of Seasonal Changes in River Levels on Health in the Brazilian Amazon


Lucas Falcão

Lucas Falcão, visiting researcher at the Duke Center for International Development (DCID) will present his research project, "Flowing with the River: Impacts of Seasonal Changes in River Levels on Health in the Brazilian Amazon." This study examines the impact of seasonal variations in the river levels of the Brazilian Amazon on health outcomes and healthcare provision. While environmental factors directly impact health, the literature often overlooks indirect effects, such as barriers to accessing healthcare services. Seasonal environmental fluctuations can prompt adaptive behaviors, including the rescheduling of medical procedures, potentially leading to undesirable health outcomes. Therefore, the seasonality of Amazonian rivers, vital transportation routes independent of local weather conditions, presents an interesting case for analyzing these mechanisms. Preliminary results indicate an increase in mortality rates after the dry season, even in non-communicable diseases. This increase is attributed not only to waterborne diseases but also to the impacts of water levels on healthcare provision and economic activities. Additionally, I found a concentration of births during periods where mothers were less exposed to droughts. Mothers exposed to more droughts had fewer prenatal visits. These findings suggest that postponing necessary medical care in anticipation of improved transportation conditions can put patients at risk and compromise their health. Lucas is a Ph.D. candidate in the Public Administration program at the Getulio Vargas Foundation (FGV/Brazil). In his prior research endeavors, he concentrated on assessing the efficiency of worker cooperatives, and the collective management of fire as an agricultural tool within the Amazon rainforest. He is with DCID for fall 2023 with sponsorship from the Coordination for the Improvement of Higher Education Personnel (CAPES/Brazil). Under the guidance of Professor Marcos Rangel, his research examines the impacts of river seasonality on public health in the Brazilian Amazon.


Lecture/Talk, Research, South America focus