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Revista Panamericana de Salud Pública

Print version ISSN 1020-4989

Abstract

TORRES-PARODI, Cristina  and  BOLIS, Mónica. The evolution of the ethnicity/race concept and its impact on framing policies that promote equity. Rev Panam Salud Publica [online]. 2007, vol.22, n.6, pp. 405-416. ISSN 1020-4989.  http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/S1020-49892007001100009.

Acknowledging the differences between individuals based on their unique identity is a basic requirement for achieving equity. A review of international human rights efforts and the recommendations and declarations of global conferences and regional summits as they redirect policy to battle discrimination shows a positive evolution in the concept of ethnicity/race. This is evident in the transition from using "invisible" differences as an equalizing measure to respecting lifestyle diversity and acknowledging that individuals have a right to be valued for their differences. This evolution in the ethnicity/race concept has been pivotal to building multiethnic, multicultural, and multilingual nations in which minority groups are involved in framing equitable health policies and programs. This study covers the time period from 1948 to the present day, identifying four stages in the concept's evolution that coincide with milestones in the political and social relationship between government institutions and ethnic minority groups. The results of these five decades of positive progress is a heightened appreciation for differences, which underlies multiethnic societies and surpasses any one of the tangible benefits received by minority groups. The progress of democratic societies depends heavily on this concept, one that ensure a stronger foundation for future development.

Keywords : human rights; prejudice; ethnic group and health; equity in health; literature review; Americas.

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