WHO backs Brazil’s plan to treat indigenous health as global priority
Following the move, made on Monday (May 29) during the 76th World Health Assembly, the WHO should put together a global indigenous health plan making the topic a priority on the international organization’s agenda, as proposed by Brazil. The strategy should also enable signatory nations to exchange relevant experiences.
Weibe Tapeba, secretary of Indigenous Health of the Ministry of Health, used his social media to celebrate the support. «An indigenous victory. A historic moment of progress, of a new time for the inclusion of indigenous peoples and their rights at a global level,» he declared. The secretary also asked the other countries to foster the document.
The pioneering resolution was presented by Brazil in Geneva on Saturday (May 27). The text was backed by 13 other nations (Australia, Bolivia, Canada, Colombia, Cuba, Ecuador, Guatemala, Mexico, New Zealand, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, and the US), as well as the European Union.
It is the first time that the WHO adopts a specific resolution regarding the health of indigenous peoples. Secretary Tapeba also spoke about the need to respect and value the traditional and cultural practices of indigenous peoples. «Access to health care for indigenous peoples also means ensuring ways to value ancestral knowledge and their native or traditional medicine, which includes forms of care and healing, the use of plants, roots, and medicinal herbs, and even the performance of rituals and valuing indigenous spirituality.»
According to the United Nations (UN), there are over 476 million indigenous people living across some 90 countries around the world, which adds up to just over six percent of the global population.
However, the UN notes that 19 percent of them are extremely poor. In addition, indigenous people also have a life expectancy up to 20 years lower than non-indigenous people worldwide.
The Ministry of Health points out that Brazil has 305 indigenous peoples spread all over the national territory, amounting to around 1.5 million people.
The Lula government, the ministry went on to report, has prioritized hiring indigenous professionals, such as indigenous health and sanitation agents, to work on disease prevention, guidance on health actions, and environmental protection.
Concerning the challenges faced by Brazil in guaranteeing universal access to health care in indigenous territories, the secretary said «there are still many gaps in the assistance provided, especially because indigenous peoples in various regions occupy locations that are difficult to access, or are isolated. Bringing health care to them requires logistics, infrastructure, and ways to find professionals seeking to work permanently in these conditions.»