Indigenous peoples the most vulnerable to Diabetes

The International Diabetes Federation (IDF) in its Sixth Atlas edition revealed that the indigenous population is more vulnerable to diabetes due to their socioeconomic disadvantage, lack of access to care and marginalization. The document reflects the special burden of diabetes on indigenous peoples and communities, representing more than 370 million people in 90 countries, which means more than 5 percent of the world population.

Diabetes is a chronic disease that occurs under insufficient production of insulin or ineffective use of it by the organism. It is a disease that can severely damage the organs and systems, especially nerves and blood vessels. The World Health Organization (WHO) indicates that there are two types of diabetes: type 1, which is characterized by deficient insulin production and, therefore, requires daily administration of this hormone; and type 2, which represents 90 percent of cases worldwide and is caused by overweight and physical inactivity. The IDF report reveals that type 2 diabetes is becoming a major health problem in rural communities in countries of low and middle income, where indigenous communities are among the most vulnerable. Previously, numerous studies have consistently demonstrated the severe impact of diabetes among indigenous peoples, as well as chronic health problems. In this sense, the report reflects on placing diabetes within a paradigm of social determinants of health, which should be targets of public policies. In its Fourth Section on Diabetes in Indigenous Populations, the Sixth Atlas claims that the indigenous populations of Pacific Islanders have the highest prevalence rates of diabetes in the world. Last but not least, the Sixth Atlas of IDF emphasizes that if aspired to achieve maximum efficiency, it is critical that the protection of indigenous peoples in terms of social determinants of health is adapted to each population´s specific cultural context.

Tags: Facts, Research


IWGIA - International Work Group for Indigenous Affairs - is a global human rights organisation dedicated to promoting, protecting and defending indigenous peoples’ rights. Read more.

Indigenous World

IWGIA's global report, the Indigenous World, provides an update of the current situation for indigenous peoples worldwide. The Indigenous World 2019.

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