Enhancing Participation of Indigenous People to Address Discrimination and Promote Equity in Health Systems
New research will help indigenous peoples in Latin America tackle the inequity, racial discrimination, and other barriers they face in accessing their right to health care. Geographic and language barriers, combined with ethnic and racial discrimination, are some of the reasons why indigenous peoples experience social exclusion. These factors impede their access to good health care. They also make it difficult for them to participate in the public sphere, and then to influence health policies and practices. Guatemala's progressive social reforms recognize the right to health for all citizens. This research project aims to strengthen the governance of the country's health system and enhance equity through the active participation of indigenous communities. Researchers will share their knowledge to implement a rights-based intervention in rural Guatemala. They will evaluate the intervention's impact on discriminatory treatment in health facilities, with a focus on providing communities with tools and strategies to monitor existing public policies and healthcare services. The impact evaluation will then help determine the effectiveness of the intervention in achieving better community participation in health policies, and reducing discriminatory practices in service delivery. Results will be disseminated throughout the project by means of development blogs, virtual networks, educational newsletters, screening of audiovisuals, meetings and workshops, educational radio programs, and policy briefs. Recipients will be local and national health policymakers and managers. The findings will also be shared with various stakeholders in Ecuador, a country that is interested in launching a similar intervention. Other expected outcomes include higher levels of empowerment among indigenous communities. Findings are expected to inform policy development in Central America and increase the capacities of the research teams as they share methods and knowledge.