Summer May Finlay writes:
This week I will be tweeting for @WePublicHealth from Geneva, Switzerland: an unlikely location for Indigenous health but I am part of a significant event – the launch of the World Federation of Public Health Associations (WFPHA) first Indigenous Working Group.
The WFPHA is an international non-government organisation whose members are national public health associations, representing about five million public health professionals worldwide. The World Federation in its 51 years has not, until now, had a focus on Indigenous health.
It is estimated there are 370 million Indigenous People across 70 countries. Indigenous Peoples have unique and different cultures yet we often share similarities.
Some of the similarities are cultural; others are due to the history of oppression and colonisation. One of the consequences of colonisation is that Indigenous people often are some of the most disadvantaged in their own countries and have poorer health outcomes.
As an Aboriginal woman who has been privileged enough to be able to travel internationally, I have come to realise that while Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people might be disadvantaged in our own country, there are many more Indigenous Peoples around the world who are even more disadvantaged.
The shared experience and understanding, in addition to the disadvantage, was why I was involved in establishing the first Indigenous Working Group for the World Federation of Public Health Associations (WFPHA).
The Working Group was first raised at the Indigenous yarning circle hosted by the Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation at the 15th World Congress on Public Health in Melbourne in April 2017.
At the Congress, more than 40 Indigenous people from around the world agreed to the establishment of the Working Group. The Working Group was then ratified by the WFPHA Governing Council in November 2017.
Now Co-Chairs Adjunct Associate Professor Carmen Parter from Australia and Adrian Te Patu from New Zealand, together with Emma Rawson and myself as Co-Vice Chairs, are launching the group formally in Geneva alongside the World Health Assembly (WHA).
The launch will be held at the University of Geneva on 24 May from 1pm to 4pm. The WHA is the decision-making body of World Health Organisation. If you would like to attend, you can register here.
The Indigenous Working Group aims to assist in reducing the health disparity and inequities experienced by Indigenous people globally. The group’s objectives are to:
- bring together Indigenous peoples from around the world to share and learn from each other
- engage in collective advocacy
- partner with existing international groups working in Indigenous affairs
- source any funding or in-kind support to support the work of the IWG and
- seek out research opportunities that develop the evidence base that informs global Indigenous public health policies.
We are privileged to have an Indigenous man, Australian Minister of Indigenous Health, the Honourable Ken Wyatt, officially launch the group via a video.
Romlie Mokak, the Chief Executive Officer of the Lowitja Institute, also by video, will present the finding from The Lancet’s Indigenous and Tribal Peoples Health to generate conversation around the Working Group’s priorities.
If you can’t be at the launch, it will be streamed live by Periscope with the videos hosted on the Working Group’s YouTube channel.
• Also, this week follow Adjunct Associate Professor Carmen Parter at @IndigenousX.
Tweet-reports from Geneva