Race and Ethnic Health Inequality - Essay Example

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This paper will explore the race and ethnic health inequalities in Colombia and the surrounding Latin American region. It will first characterize the situation of Afro-Colombians and indigenous populations in Colombia. Secondly, it will document racial/ethnic disparities in health outcomes and access to health care using data from the Living Standards Survey and the evaluation of the "Familias en Accin program"…
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Race and Ethnic Health Inequality
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Download file to see previous pages Based on these findings it is possible to make some specific policy recommendations aimed at improving the status of racial minorities in Colombia and the surrounding areas.
Health inequalities have recently started to receive a good deal of attention in developing countries. However scarce, some preliminary literature has begun to explore the extent of health inequalities in developing countries, in particular, across the socioeconomic dimension. In other words, trying to understand how large the differences in health outcomes are across socioeconomic groups. Conclusions of these studies coincide with what has already been found for industrialized countries: health outcomes are significantly better for individuals that are better-off in terms of income and socioeconomic conditions.
In a recent paper, Wagstaff (2002) presents measures of health inequality, much in the spirit of concentration indices commonly used to measure income inequality. In a nutshell, the measure is calculated by plotting the cumulative proportion of individuals experiencing a given health outcome (e.g., deaths in the case of mortality measures) against the cumulative proportion of population at risk, ranked by economic status. ...
that the penetration of that outcome (mortality in our example) is higher among poorer individuals and inequalities in mortality are therefore to the advantage of better-off children.

Strikingly, during the nineties Latin America and the Caribbean exhibited the largest inequalities on all measures of health which include: infant mortality rate (IMR), under-five years of age mortality rate (U5MR), percent of children stunted (percent of children whose height measurement is more than two standards deviation below the median reference standard for their age as established by the World Health Organization), percent of children underweight, diarrhea prevalence (percent of surviving children under three, four, or five years old who had diarrhea in the two weeks preceding the survey) and acute respiratory infection prevalence (ARI). While Colombia exhibits worse health inequalities than the world average, these are slightly above the Latin American average.

The growing interest in health inequalities in developing countries reflects the extent of the broad interpretation being given to the term "poverty" in the academic literature, and the increasing tendency of defining goals of multilateral institutions and aid organizations in terms of poverty reduction. At the same time, there is a growing consensus that health inequalities (defined between the poor and the rich, and or in other dimensions that characterize different populations, like minorities) are unjust. In other words, reducing the cross-country and intra-country gaps between different population groups does not simply imply reducing poverty, but also improves social justice and equity (Alleyne, Casas, and Castillo-Salgado, 2000).

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