Washington, 18 April 2013 — The multi-ethnic composition of the Americas reflects a high degree of cultural, linguistic and national diversity. It is estimated that the indigenous population of Latin America and the Caribbean is between 45 and 50 million people, with ninety percent of them concentrated in the Andean region and in Central America. In addition, around 150 million people of African descent live in the Americas. Both of these population groups have elevated rates of poverty, unemployment, illiteracy, migration, exclusion and access to such social services as health, education, sanitation and potable water.
Given this context and in order to advance and strengthen intercultural health in the Americas, the Office of Gender, Diversity and Human Rights (GDR) has organized two regional events.
The first one will be held in Santa Cruz, Bolivia from 8 to 10 May 2013. The International Meeting on Ethnic Groups, Indigenous Peoples y Evidence-building in Health will bring together all counterparts (academia, government, indigenous organization and international agencies) that have contributed to the construction of evidence concerning the health of indigenous peoples. The goal is to create a knowledge platform that will advance the design of programs that will improve the health of and access to services by indigenous peoples. The event will also generate a space for science and interculturalism, integrating them in the elaboration of policies and programs directed at indigenous groups within the framework of cultural diversity. Participants will be representatives of ministries of health, indigenous organizations, the Fondo Indígena for Latin America and the Caribbean, universities, international cooperation organizations and PAHO representatives of countries in the region with indigenous populations.
The following month, the Regional Workshop on Lessons Learned and Proposals in Intercultural Health will take place in Lima, Peru from 11 to 13 June. The event aims to strengthen the capacity-building in intercultural health of staff from ministries of health and PAHO in Ecuador, Colombia, Bolivia, Perú, Guatemala and Chile. These countries have a large indigenous population and/or have developed positive process that merit being made known and shared. During the workshop they will share lessons learned regarding innovative practices in indigenous health, interculturalism and traditional medicine; will assess a PAHO guide for promoting interculturalism in health services; and will promote follow-up through a workplan on intercultural health that the participating countries will develop in order to establish exchanges between them or direct technical cooperation.