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Rev Panam Salud Publica. 2002 May-Jun;11(5-6):471-9.

[People of African descent in the region of the Americas and health equity].

[Article in Spanish]

Author information

Programa de Políticas Públicas y Salud, División de Salud y Desarrollo Humano, Organización Panamericana de la Salud, Washington, D.C., USA.


The Region of the Americas and the Caribbean has a complex demographic profile from an ethnic and racial perspective. One of the largest groups is composed of persons of African descent, who in some countries, such as Brazil and the Dominican Republic, comprise 46 and 84% of the total population, respectively. Recent analyses of the statistics available in some countries of the Region show wide gaps in terms of living conditions and health in these communities, as well as gaps in access to health services. PAHO, through its Public Policy and Health Program, under the Division of Health and Human Development, supports sectorial efforts and those of civil organizations that aim to improve health conditions in this segment of the population, while taking into account their sociodemographic and cultural characteristics. This article briefly summarizes health conditions and access to health services in selected countries, as well as some aspects of the recent changes to the legislation in those countries. Finally, collaborative activities on the part of United Nations agencies and international financial institutions for the benefit of people of African descent and other ethnic minorities are described.

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