Ensuring Indigenous Peoples’ Health and Well-being
NEW YORK – INTERNATIONAL – The United Nations is marking August 9 as the International Day of Indigenous Peoples.
This year’s International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples puts a spotlight on the issue of indigenous peoples’ access to health care services. In a message to mark the Day, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said, “On this International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples, I call on the international community to ensure that they are not left behind. To create a better, more equitable future, let us commit to do more to improve the health and well-being of indigenous peoples.”
A special event will be held at the United Nations Headquarters in New York on Monday, 10 August, from 3 to 6PM EDT, and will be carried live on UN TV, under the theme “Post-2015 Agenda: Ensuring indigenous peoples’ health and well-being”. Speaking on the occasion are Mr. Ban; Wu Hongbo, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs and senior official to coordinate the follow-up to the World Conference on Indigenous Peoples; and Megan Davis, Chair of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues.
The observance will also include the launch of the State of the World’s Indigenous Peoples, Volume II, on health, with remarks by authors and editors of the publication: Priscilla Migiro, a paediatrician from Kenya, Mukta Lama, from the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Tribhuvan University in Nepal, and Jeffrey Reading, from the University of Victoria in British Columbia, Canada.
Ontario Regional Chief Day on International Day of Indigenous Peoples
“International Indigenous Day, as recognized by the United Nations, is important because in every country on the planet, there are Indigenous people’s issues that are often characterized by some type of social struggle or colonization. Indigenous Peoples have rights that the United Nations continues to highlight and promote to all countries and their Indigenous Peoples,” said Ontario Regional Chief Isadore Day.
“The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, 2007, signalled a turning point globally about the rights and authorities that Indigenous Peoples posses over their lands. Political, social, economic and environmental jurisdiction are vital aspects of work that Ontario First Nations have placed in front of the province of Ontario’s premier Kathleen Wynne and her cabinet. On August 24th, we will be signing a Political Accord the recognizes or Inherent and Treaty rights,” continued Chief Day.
In June and July, Pope Francis commented on Indigenous issues about the land and on social impacts from colonial issues. World leaders in all state run jurisdictions should come to grips with the significant role that Indigenous Peoples can have in helping correct historical wrongs in mainstream society right across the planet,” concluded Day.
Ontario Regional Chief Isadore Day will be attending an International Indigenous Education conference in the Treaty #3 region at Fort Francis Ontario.
Today Ontario Regional Chief Day is at Serpent River First Nation where his community are host to many First Nation peoples and cultures from all over the world as they celebrate their 25th Annual Powwow.
The State of the World’s Indigenous Peoples, Volume II
The State of the World’s Indigenous Peoples, Volume II, which was authored by six independent experts and produced by the Secretariat of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, examines the major challenges indigenous peoples face in terms of adequate access to and utilization of quality health care services.
According to the authors, indigenous peoples face a myriad of obstacles when accessing public health systems, such as the lack of facilities in their communities, language barriers, illiteracy and a lack of understanding of their culture and traditional practices. Also absent are adequate health insurance and the lack of economic capacity to pay for services. As a result, they often cannot afford health services even if available.
The publication cites numerous examples of health gaps between indigenous peoples and non-indigenous populations living in the same countries, including significantly shorter life expectancy, elevated prevalence of infectious diseases and higher rates of malnutrition and child mortality. Indigenous peoples are also more likely to suffer from substance abuse and depression and other mental disorders than their non-indigenous counterparts.
The challenges related to improving indigenous peoples’ health are linked to social, cultural, economic and political factors, including inadequate education, disproportionate poverty and discrimination in the health service delivery. As such, the report calls for the development of specific health care concepts and targeted interventions tailored to their needs.
The first United Nations publication on the state of the world’s indigenous peoples was published in 2009 and revealed alarming statistics on poverty, health, education, employment, human rights, the environment and more.
There are an estimated 370 million indigenous people in 90 countries around the world. Practicing unique traditions, they retain social, cultural, economic and political characteristics distinct from those of the dominant societies in which they live.
The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 2007, recognizes indigenous peoples’ right to self-determination and their right to freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development. Article 24 of the Declaration states that “indigenous individuals have an equal right to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health” and that “States shall take the necessary steps with a view to achieving progressively the full realization of this right”.
The International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples is commemorated annually on 9 August, in recognition of the first meeting of the United Nations Working Group on Indigenous Populations, held in Geneva in 1982. The International Day was first proclaimed by the General Assembly in December 1994.