About 100 Indians of various ethnicities on Tuesday occupied Brazil's Health Ministry in this capital, while other groups blocked highways in the southern part of the country to demand that the authorities provide better health care for their people.

The protest was called by the Kaingang, Guarani and Charrua ethnicities, all from southern Brazil, for the purpose of calling attention to the grave deficiencies in the health facilities of their villages, the demonstrators said.

"The rate of indigenous mortality is constantly increasing because the Health Ministry does not define adequate policies - it makes promises but does nothing," Pedro Kaingang, spokesman for the group occupying the ministry's offices in the capital, said.

The demonstrators gave reporters copies of their document demanding an "immediate solution" to the situation and better wages for the doctors working in their villages, a greater number of health facilities and supplies including wheelchairs, glasses and dentures.

Kaingang said the occupiers are on the fourth floor of the Health Ministry, where the offices dedicated to indigenous health care are located and where they will stay until they are received by the head of that unit, Alexandre Padilha.

While the protest was being carried out in the capital, groups of Indians of the same ethnicities blocked traffic on five highways in the southern states of Santa Catarina and Rio Grande do Sul, the state news service Agencia Brasil said.

Officials at the Health Ministry consulted by Efe said that Minister Padilha is ready to meet with the demonstrators, but has demanded "guarantees" that, after the meeting, they will vacate the ministry offices. EFE