This is the VOA Special English Development Report.
Some of the longest-lasting effects of
colonization can be found in the health of the native people who were
colonized. Indigenous and aboriginal groups are often less healthy than the
people whose ancestors settled in their lands.
Canada, for example, indigenous -- or First Nation -- people live on average seven
fewer years than Canadians of European ancestry. Aboriginal Australians live on
average seventeen fewer years than white
Malcolm King from the
University of Alberta is scientific director of Canada's Institute of
Aboriginal Peoples' Health.
MALCOLM KING: "In simple terms, things such as
type two diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, infectious diseases of a variety of
types, and lung diseases and so on, are all found at higher than the comparison
rates within the country, in many of these countries with indigenous
King says loss of culture, land and language all play a part in poor health. Having
an identity, he says, is especially important for mental health. For example, many indigenous children in
Canada were taken from their families and sent to live at schools. They were
educated in the European system. So they
never had a normal chance to develop a cultural identity.
King says measures to deal with some of these problems might fall outside
traditional health interventions.
MALCOLM KING: "We're proposing that health
researchers get involved in projects like housing, like economic development,
certainly educational projects, and study the health effects -- hopefully the
health benefits -- of these complex social, economic interactions. And by
learning what it is about economic development or housing that actually helps
to improve health, we can then design more programs and ultimately make better
use of the knowledge that we have."
There are almost
four hundred million indigenous people in the world. Poverty, malnutrition,
overcrowding, lack of clean conditions, pollution and limited health services
are all causes of their poor health. Malcolm King and other researchers wrote
about this in the medical journal The Lancet earlier this month.
noted that some groups, as they move away from traditional ways of life, are
developing diseases of modern living. These include obesity, heart disease and
type two diabetes. They are also experiencing physical, social and mental
disorders linked to the misuse of alcohol and drugs. The researchers say
governments have a responsibility to work with indigenous people to help them solve
problems in their community.
And that's the VOA Special
English Development Report. I'm Faith Lapidus.