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Whitman College

Publication Date

Fall 2007

Program Name

Chile: Economic Development and Globalization


The social changes of globalization and the loss of socio-cultural identity have contributed to a progressive health deterioration of the Mapuche people in southern Chile. Although traditional Mapuche medical knowledge and practices continue to complement western medicine, neither modern healthcare nor ancestral practices are capable of satisfying all of the health demands the Mapuche population presents. Faced with this situation, Programa Orígenes (Origens Program), financed through a loan from the Interamerican Development Bank and funds from the Chilean Government, has developed an Intercultural Health initiative as a socio-culturally appropriate solution to the healthcare problems within indigenous populations of the country. The following study, the result of a month-long field study, undertakes an exploratory and qualitative analysis of the Intercultural Health component of Programa Orígenes, concentrating on the impact in the IX region of Chile, Araucanía. The study finds that the projects undertaken in the first phase of Programa Orígenes failed to function in practice as intended, due to, among other factors, the structure and design of the Program, rigid protocols, slow distribution of resources, financial and bureaucratic inefficiencies, and time and resource restrains, all of which prevented considerable development in the arena of Intercultural health. The work of Programa Orígenes was inadequate for the creation of a complementarity in healthcare, but constituted an important step in the realization of intercultural relations and a process of revaluation and recuperation of Mapuche medical practices in Chile.


Community Health and Preventive Medicine | Public Health


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