Research report

A global snapshot of Indigenous and tribal peoples' health

07 Nov 2016





In 2012 it was estimated that there were more than 300 million Indigenous peoples living across the globe. A 2009 UN report found that Indigenous peoples came from approximately 90 different countries. There is enormous diversity amongst Indigenous and tribal groups who speak more than half of all living languages and practice more than 5,000 distinct cultures. Indigenous cultures have evolved over thousands of years based on deep connections with their environments. Many Indigenous peoples have maintained a strong belief in the relationship between people, land and nature while resisting and surviving the impact of colonisation and other forms of dispossession.

In May 2014, a group of international experts in Indigenous health led by Professor Ian Anderson, an Indigenous Australian, met in New York to collaborate on a project that would look at the state of Indigenous health across multiple countries and regions. The Lancet commissioned this piece in collaboration with the Lowitja Institute, Australia’s national institute for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health research. Since that meeting many more local experts and collaborators joined the project and after a lengthy process of gathering, analysing and drafting, The Lancet published in April 2016 a paper titled ‘Indigenous and Tribal Peoples’ Health (The Lancet -Lowitja Institute Global Collaboration): A population study’.

The final Lancet paper included contributors from 23 countries and data from 28 Indigenous and Tribal peoples. Populations covered come from all of the World Health Organization regions and ranged from countries classified by the World Bank as low income to high income. This project sought to compare data within countries, comparing results for Indigenous groups against ‘benchmark’ populations (either the non- Indigenous people or the total population of a locality or country), to understand within country inequalities.

This report provides a more detailed understanding of the context of each population included in a paper published by The Lancet in April 2016, 'Indigenous and Tribal Peoples Health (The Lancet–Lowitja Institute Collaboration): A population study' by I. Anderson, B. Robson, M. Connolly et al. 

Contributors have endeavoured to provide a summary of the history, culture, legal and political status as well as socio-demographic factors of each Indigenous or tribal group. Unfortunately the political situation in some countries has meant that in some cases authors have not been able to include important facts pertaining to their Indigenous peoples.




Resource Type: 
Peer Reviewed: