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Health Disparities In Indigenous People Tied To Cultural Loss

by VR Sreeraman on July 6, 2009 at 12:11 PM
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 Health Disparities In Indigenous People Tied To Cultural Loss

The health disparities prevalent in indigenous people around the world are closely tied to cultural loss including, loss of language, globalization and removal from the land.

Dr. Malcolm King, lead author of the paper, says that Indigenous well-being is distinct, and includes physical, emotional, mental and spiritual health.

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There has to be a balance between the person, his/her family, community, and environment.

"Wellbeing for Aboriginal Peoples is more than physical health or absence of disease, it's about 'being alive well' or 'mno bmaadis' as they say in the Anishinabek language," The Lancet quoted King as saying.
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"All four elements of life - physical, emotional, mental and spiritual - are traditionally represented in the four directions of the medicine wheel, and traditional healing often implicates the whole community, cleansing the environment around a person as well as his or her body," he added.

He further said that language was crucial to identity, health and relations. Therefore, according to him, its revitalization can be seen as a health promotion strategy.

"That's why factors like retention of Aboriginal languages, cultural practices, self determination, and respect for Elders is so important," said King

"And that's why we have so much to do to repair the damage done by so many disruptive assimilationist practices in the past, such as cutting off children from their families at residential schools, or suppression of cultural practices that conflicted with European ideas," he added.

Source: ANI
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