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“Our goal must be a world in which good health is a pillar of individual well-being, national progress, and international stability and peace. This cannot be achieved without partnerships involving governments, international organizations, the business community, and civil society.”

— Kofi A. Annan, ex-Secretary-General of the United Nations

Make A Difference » Priority Programs 

Together we can improve the health of indigenous communities and strive for health equity

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Forty-five (45) million indigenous people belonging to more than 400 distinct ethnic groups live in 24 countries in the Americas. This multicultural, multiethnic, and multilingual population includes some of the hemisphere’s poorest people. Many factors – social, cultural and spiritual - underlie the health inequities in these communities.

Indigenous people have faced tremendous adversity throughout history, and have struggled to ensure their rights. The link between poverty, illiteracy, limited access to basic services, and greater risk of disease and death is undeniable.

Health challenges:

  • Infant and maternal mortality rates among the highest in the Americas.
  • 40% are without regular access to health care.
  • Limited access to safe water, food and sanitation.
  • Higher mortality of adults and children and greater morbidity from preventable illnesses as nutritional deficiencies, diarrhea, respiratory problems and vaccine-preventable diseases.
  • High rates of discontinuation of TB treatment.
  • Increased incidence of sexually transmitted infections.
  • Life expectancy 10 to 20 years less than for the general population.

Public health interventions proven to be effective in the general population are often ineffective in indigenous communities. Operations research is needed to make these proven interventions culturally appropriate. And, policies and communications need to be more sensitive to indigenous cultures.