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Wellesly College

Publication Date

Spring 2013

Program Name

Chile: Public Health, Traditional Medicine, and Community Empowerment


The main objective of this project was to investigate to what extent intercultural health experiences in the Araucanía region of southern Chile can help overcome situations of discrimination or how they may help generate new ones. This project surfaces from the known history of discrimination against the mapuche population that has resulted in poor health status and how the installation of intercultural health financed by the governments' own ministry of health tries to alleviate the problem. To achieve the main objective, both surveys and interviews were conducted at two intercultural health centers in order to determine actual and perceived health status, identify the existing relationship between discrimination and ethnicity as a determinant of health in the mapuche population, and to learn how discrimination is recognized and understood. Results demonstrated that the existence and satisfaction with intercultural health centers altered perceptions of health. Furthermore, results show that intercultural health centers prove to not only be beneficial to health, but can also be seen as a threat to the ever mitigating mapuche culture. In conclusion, intercultural health can be seen as an extension of government control over indigenous populations.


Community Health and Preventive Medicine | Family, Life Course, and Society | Health Services Research | Inequality and Stratification | Public Health | Public Health Education and Promotion

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