BANGKOK, 9 February 2012 (IRIN) – The health of millions of indigenous people across Asia is at risk, experts say, as lack of recognition of their legal status hinders data collection, making their medical problems invisible in most national health surveys.
Indigenous peoples – defined by the UN as people with ancestral ties to a geographical region who retain “distinct characteristics” from other parts of the population – rank disproportionately high in most indicators of poor health, according to the UN Secretariat Department of Economic and Social Affairs.
“It is very regrettable that governments and their offices are reluctant to, or unable to, reveal the state of health of their indigenous populations,” Michael Gracey, co-author of a 2009 medical study on indigenous health, told IRIN.
Approximately two-thirds of the world’s estimated 300 million indigenous people live in Asia (207 million), according to 2011 estimates by the UN Population Fund (UNFPA).
Read more: irinnews.org