Working to Achieve Health Equity with an Ethnic Perspective: What has been Done and Best Practices

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By: Cristina Torres Parodi
Org: Pan American Health Organization/ World Health Organization

This document addresses issues relating to health equity and victims of racial discrimination.

Main question asked by this study:

  • What has been done, what are the successful experiences that can be used as good practices and adapted to local realities, and what else can be done to ensure that ethnic groups have equal access to health information and health services?

The authors identify that "best practices" in health policies and programs are those practices that have at least three of the following features:

  1. Health sector involvement in the process
  2. Civic society leadership and participation
  3. Financial sustainability
  4. A comprehensive health perspective basis
  5. Benefits to and empowerment of the ethnic communities

What the authors learned

Policies and programs to promote the well-being of ethnic groups and victims of racial discrimination have a vast list of experiences that we can learn from. When these national initiatives are analyzed, some common characteristics appear:

  • In some countries, the health of ethnic groups has been considered since the early part of the last century.
  • Vulnerable groups had increasing participation in the design and implementation of the programs.
  • In the 1980s, some of these initiatives were decentralized to allow for increased participation of local authorities and communities.
  • The decade of the Indigenous People had a positive impact on the promotion of policies and programs aimed at protecting indigenous populations.
  • The biggest obstacle to addressing racial/ethnic inequalities is the financial commitment that is needed to fund the various initiatives. If governments can commit funds and engage these ethnic groups in the design and implementation of programs, we would see a significant reduction in inequities/inequalities.
This document is available for download in Adobe Acrobat PDF format (70 KB, 18 pages).