The multisite and cross-cultural dimension of the Trauma and Global Health Program will allow us to examine and compare diferential exposure to traumatic experiences and its short and long-term impact and mental health outcomes that are specific to particular social and cultural contexts.
The four countries involved (Guatemala, Peru, Sri Lanka and Nepal) in this global health research initative share a history of colonization and dependency, the presence of sizable indigenous groups, different ethnicities and languages, and distinctive social, political, religious and cultural attributes. All four countries have in common large segments of the population living below the poverty line, persistent social inequalities, exclusionary practices against women and indigenous peoples, a history of racism and discrimination against ethnic groups, poor governance, corruption at various levels, inefficient justice systems, and above all an experience of both episodic natural disasters (i.e., earthquakes, hurricanes, tsunamis, tornados and floods) and protracted and endemic political violence, armed conflict and war.
Thus, in designing humanitarian responses and strategies for healing and coping we need to include the systematic assessment of the social and cultural contexts in which people assign meaning, cope with and recover from potentially traumatic experiences. While these countries share a recent history of extreme violence and adversity, there are significant differences between the four countries with respect to social stratification, religion, cultural values, and level of education, as a result of which each society has distinctive ways of explaining adversity, and wide variety of coping strategies and healing traditions.