Poor Health And Social Conditions Among Indigenous Peoples

571 words - 3 pages

Indigenous people
Over the past several years, there has been a growing concern throughout the world with respect to the poor health and social conditions experienced by many indigenous peoples.  There are 300 million indigenous people living in over 70 countries around the world.  In the Americas alone, there are forty-three million indigenous peoples.  These people are among the most disadvantaged, with morbidity and mortality profiles that are indicative of the most underprivileged socioeconomic groups, suffering from lower life-expectancy and higher rates of diseases, accidents and violence.  In most countries, the leading causes of death are preventable; e.g. communicable, vector-borne and parasitic diseases. Most indigenous peoples are children or young adults -- for example, nearly 50% of indigenous peoples in Peru and 33% of Native Americans in the United States are younger than 15 years.   Available data show that in most Latin American countries the leading causes of infant mortality for indigenous populations are infectious intestinal and respiratory diseases, which are preventable.
Indigenous peoples' health issues differ from other low socioeconomic groups because of the need to honor traditions and cultural values.  Indigenous people are more vulnerable than other ethnic groups so policies and programs that have been developed for non-indigenous communities have proven to be largely ineffective and even harmful for indigenous peoples.   Indigenous peoples do not separate physical health issues from associated causes such as cultural abuse, socioeconomic factors and educational issues.  To completely address indigenous health issues the definition of health has to be expanded to include overall wellness. “One can not look upon ill health without seeing a direct relationship with decades of struggle over land and water rights, not to mention the erosion of family and loss of deep spiritual foundation." (Papa Ola Lokahi --...

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