Disparities amidst plenty: a health portrait of Indigenous peoples in circumpolar regions
This paper describes the extent and variation in health disparities between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people within Alaska, Greenland and the northern regions of Canada, Russia and the Nordic countries. We accessed official health statistics and reviewed research studies. We selected a few indicators of health status, health determinants and health care to demonstrate the health disparities that exist. For a large number of health indicators Indigenous people fare worse than non-Indigenous people in the same region or nationally, with the exception of the Sami in the Nordic countries whose health profiles are similar to their non-Sami neighbours. That we were unable to produce a uniform set of indicators applicable to all regions is indicative of the large knowledge gaps that exist. The need for ongoing health monitoring for Indigenous people is most acute for the Sami and Russia, less so for Canada, and least for Alaska, where health data specific to Alaska Natives are generally available. It is difficult to produce an overarching explanatory model for health disparities that is applicable to all regions. We need to seek explanation in the broader political, cultural and societal contexts within which Indigenous people live in their respective regions.