Orang Asli Health and Lifeways Project (OA HeLP)

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Ian Wallace


The Orang Asli Health and Lifeways Project (OA HeLP) is a collaboration between anthropologists and biomedical researchers to study the changing patterns of health and disease among the indigenous peoples of Peninsular Malaysia, collectively known as the Orang Asli. Traditionally, the Orang Asli live isolated in rainforest camps and villages and subsist based on hunting, gathering, fishing, and small-scale agriculture. Recently, however, Orang Asli groups have been undergoing varying degrees of lifestyle change due to rapidly expanding market economies, industries, and other socioeconomic entities. The overarching goal of this project is to identify and understand how and why these lifestyle changes are occurring and establish how they are affecting health and patterns of disease, particularly the burden of non-communicable chronic diseases, which are an escalating public health concern worldwide.