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Can J Public Health. 2005 Mar-Apr;96 Suppl 2:S45-61.

The embodiment of inequity: health disparities in aboriginal Canada.

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  • 1Department of Anthropology, York University, Toronto, ON.


Health disparities are, first and foremost, those indicators of a relative disproportionate burden of disease on a particular population. Health inequities point to the underlying causes of the disparities, many if not most of which sit largely outside of the typically constituted domain of "health". The literature reviewed for this synthesis document indicates that time and again health disparities are directly and indirectly associated with social, economic, cultural and political inequities; the end result of which is a disproportionate burden of ill health and social suffering upon the Aboriginal populations of Canada. In analyses of health disparities, it is as important to navigate the interstices between the person and the wider social and historical contexts as it is to pay attention to the individual effects of inequity. Research and policy must address the contemporary realities of Aboriginal health and well-being, including the individual and community-based effects of health disparities and the direct and indirect sources of those disparities.

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