Report finds Indigenous peoples live in greater poverty
The biggest ever study on the health and wellbeing of Indigenous people published in British medical journal The Lancet has established that living in a richer country doesn’t give Indigenous people an advantage. It’s found that the gap in life expectancy of Indigenous people in Australia is on par with Indigenous people in Cameroon. The study is the product of a collaboration between leading Australian Indigenous health research body the Lowitja Institute and British medical journal The Lancet, and covers about half the world’s Indigenous population.The United Nations-backed report, which brings together data of Indigenous peoples from 23 countries including Australia and New Zealand, found poorer results in life expectancy, infant mortality rates and birth weights.It also found the wealth of a county did not mean better health outcomes for Indigenous people.The findings brings together data from 28 indigenous and tribal groups across 23 countries accounting for more than half of the world’s native populations.This means United Nations will not meet its 2030 goals of ending poverty and inequality unless there is a global effort to tackle disadvantage faced by Indigenous and tribal peoples, a landmark study has found.Led by Australian Indigenous health experts, the study calls for “a revitalised global partnership” to improve health outcomes and “counter political marginalisation” in countries.”
We need to stop thinking about Indigenous health as a parochial issue; it’s a global issue,” said lead author, Ian Anderson, the chairman of Indigenous Education at the University of Melbourne.”The UN agenda about global development won’t be successful unless we start to tackle at a global level the issues of Indigenous and tribal peoples who sit right at the bottom of wealth globally.” The report’s lead author says social inequity such as access to education and jobs needs to change to improve the health of Indigenous people around the world.While it finds there is no correlation between the wealth of a nation and the level of disadvantage faced by Indigenous people, the study does not make “cross-country comparisons” between the 23 participating nations.It concludes outcomes are poorer for Indigenous and tribal peoples generally, but says the level of disadvantage varies across nations.It calls on the UN to drive a global push for better information gathering on Indigenous and tribal populations, lamenting that only 15 of the 23 countries record Indigenous status in data collection. Australia leads when it comes to data collection, it says.”We are especially concerned that some countries with highly developed statistical systems including Denmark, Norway and Sweden have legislative prohibitions against the collection of ethnicity data,” the study says.
Romlie Mokak, chief executive of the Lowitja Institute, said: “The fundamental point here is that we’ve looked at half the world’s Indigenous populations and what has been revealed is that, in the main, outcomes for Indigenous people are poorer across the globe. “We got to get the UN to more seriously look at Indigenous populations in the world and that may assist in nation states having more commitment to actually count Indigenous people within their nations and look at the questions of access to health and other services.”Dr Anderson said one of the positives to emerge from the study was the potential to build links and share knowledge with Indigenous health experts across the globe.”One of the things we have done through this study is work with 65 Indigenous health experts across 23 countries. That’s the largest most comprehensive collaboration to date,” he said.”From Australia, we tend to look to New Zealand, the United States and Canada in terms of partnerships in Indigenous health. We now have serious opportunity to look across to South America, to south-east Asia and Africa, and look at what we can learn from sharing with each other.”The participating countries included Australia, United States, Canada, New Zealand, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Russia, China, India, Thailand, Pakistan, Brazil, Colombia, Chile, Myanmar, Kenya, Peru, Panama, Venezuela, Cameroon and Nigeria.Researchers assessed data on basic population, life expectancy at birth, infant mortality, low and high birthweight, maternal mortality, nutritional status, educational attainment, poverty and economic status.However, they did not make cross-country comparisons.