This article, published by The Lancet, notes that almost 400 million of the world’s indigenous people have low standards of health. This poor health is associated with poverty, malnutrition, overcrowding, poor hygiene, environmental contamination, and prevalent infections. The authors argue that this precarious situation is aggravated by inadequate clinical care and health promotion, and poor disease prevention services. They note that as indigenous groups move from traditional to transitional and modern lifestyles, they are rapidly acquiring lifestyle diseases, such as obesity, cardiovascular disease, and type 2 diabetes, and physical, social, and mental disorders linked to misuse of alcohol and of other drugs.
The article recommends increased awareness, political commitment, and recognition rather than governmental denial and neglect of these serious and complex problems. Additionally, the authors recommend that indigenous people should be encouraged, trained, and enabled to become increasingly involved in overcoming these challenges.
Authors: M. Gracey; M. King
Publisher: The Lancet, 2009