Indigenous communities in Latin America lack good healthcare—and often lack any healthcare—for musculoskeletal and rheumatic diseases.1 Global health initiatives tend to focus on infectious disease, despite the increasing rate of chronic diseases.
Explore this issueNovember 2018
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In a survey of 6,155 individuals from eight indigenous communities, conducted by a team of Latin American investigators, the prevalence of these conditions was 34.5%. The research was published July 14, 2018, in Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases.1
“That’s a higher prevalence than anywhere in the world, and it’s higher in a younger population,” says Leigh F. Callahan, PhD, noting the mean age of study subjects was 41.2 years. “I think the reason for this high rate is that these indigenous individuals have very low levels of socioeconomic status, which is well known to correlate with disease prevalence, morbidity and mortality.” Dr. Callahan, who was not involved in the study, is the Mary Link Briggs distinguished professor of medicine, and associate director, Thurston Arthritis Research Center, the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.