Arachu Castro, PhD, MPH


Samuel Z. Stone Endowed Chair of Public Health in Latin America
Director of the Collaborative Group for Health Equity in Latin America
Arachu Castro, smiling, holding a small button that reads "Health FOr All," from the 2020 UN meeting

Education & Affiliations

PhD, Ethnology and Social Anthropology, École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales, Paris, 1996
PhD, Social Sciences and Health, School of Economics, University of Barcelona, 1997
MPH, International Health, Harvard School of Public Health, 1998
MA, History and Social Anthropology, University of Barcelona, 1988
RD, Nutrition, Polytechnic Institute of Barcelona, 1988


Arachu Castro, Ph.D., M.P.H., is Professor and Samuel Z. Stone Endowed Chair of Public Health in Latin America and Director of the Collaborative Group for Health Equity in Latin America at Tulane School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine. Her major interests are how social inequalities are embodied as differential risk for pathologies common among the poor and how health policies may alter the course of epidemic disease and other pathologies afflicting populations living in poverty. Dr. Castro works at the intersection of medical anthropology and epidemiology. She conducts research throughout Latin America and the Caribbean on health equity and social inequalities, women’s health and reproduction, and early childhood development in contexts of poverty. Dr. Castro has worked in Mexico, Argentina, Haiti, Cuba, Puerto Rico, Venezuela, Colombia, Peru, the Dominican Republic, Brazil, Nicaragua, Honduras, and Bolivia. Before joining Tulane in 2013, she was Associate Professor of Global Health and Social Medicine at Harvard Medical School. Among other awards, Dr. Castro is the recipient of the 2005 Rudolf Virchow Award and the 2010 Guggenheim Fellowship. In 2012 she was named Fellow of the Society for Applied Anthropology and is former President of the Society for Medical Anthropology. She is a member of the Executive Committees of the Health Equity Network of the Americas, the Sustainable Health Equity Movement, the Framework Convention on Global Health Alliance, IPPF’s International Medical Advisory Panel, and the World Humanitarian Forum Global Health Board. She is an elected corresponding member of the Cuban Academy of Sciences and a former member of the founding World Health Organization Strategic and Technical Advisory Group of Experts for Maternal, Newborn, Child, Adolescent Health & Nutrition. She has worked as a consultant for the Pan American Health Organization, the World Health Organization, UNICEF, UNAIDS, UNDP, the World Bank, and the Inter-American Development Bank. She has testified in the Foreign Relations Subcommittees of both the United States Congress and the United States Senate on COVID-19 vaccine access in Latin America and the Caribbean. Her research has been funded by the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, the Ford Foundation, Atlantic Philanthropies, the Maternal Health Task Force, UNICEF, the Pan American Health Organization, UNAIDS, the Bernard van Leer Foundation, Tulane University, and Harvard University, among others. She has a Ph.D. in social anthropology and ethnology from the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales in Paris (1996), a Ph.D. in social sciences and health from the University of Barcelona (1997), and an MPH from Harvard School of Public Health in Boston (1998).

When We Are Born. | Arachu Castro | TEDxEmory 2021.

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Research Areas

  • Health equity and social inequality
  • Women's health and reproduction
  • Poverty and early childhood development
  • Latin America and the Caribbean

Honors & Awards

  • 2017-19: President of the Society for Medical Anthropology
  • 2012: Fellow of the Society for Applied Anthropology (elected by the board)
  • 2010: Guggenheim Fellow, Medicine and Health, North American competition
  • 2005: Rudolf Virchow Professional Award of the Society for Medical Anthropology


Please view Dr. Castro's publications at NCBI Profile page and Google Scholar.

Publications on obstetric violence and respectful care:

Castro A. La violencia obstétrica o la provocación de la vulnerabilidad estructural en la atención del parto [Obstetric violence or the provocation of structural vulnerability during childbirth care]. In Paola Sesia, Rubén Muñoz, Lina Berrio (eds.). Entre las estructuras y la agencia: Múltiples vulnerabilidades y respuestas en la salud sexual y reproductiva [Between structures and agency: Multiple vulnerabilities and responses in sexual and reproductive health]. Buenos Aires: Cuadernos del ISCo. Universidad Nacional de Lanús, 2024 (in press).

Preaux A, Castro A. Obstetricians and the delivery of obstetric violence: An ethnographic account from the Dominican Republic. In Davis-Floyd R, Premkumar A (eds.) Obstetric Violence and Systemic Disparities: Can Obstetrics Be Humanized and Decolonized? New York: Berghahn Books, 2023, pp. 23-43. doi: 10.1515/9781800738355-004.

Castro A. Witnessing obstetric violence during fieldwork: Notes from Latin America. Health and Human Rights. 2019; 21(1):103-113.  PMID: 31239618. 

Castro A, Savage V. Obstetric violence as reproductive governance in the Dominican Republic. Medical anthropology. 2019; 38(2):123-136. PMID: 30433822.

Savage V, Castro A. Measuring mistreatment of women during childbirth: a review of terminology and methodological approaches. Reproductive health. 2017; 14(1):138. PMID: 29073914. PMCID: PMC5658997.

Castro A, Savage V, Kaufman H. Assessing equitable care for Indigenous and Afrodescendant women in Latin America. Revista Panamericana de Salud Pública = Pan American Journal of Public Health. 2015; 38(2):96-109. PMID: 26581050.

Publications on early childhood development:

Sánchez-Vincitore L, Cubilla-Bonnetier D, Valdez ME, Jiménez A, Peterson P, Vargas K, Castro A. The impact of ever breastfeeding on children ages 12 to 36 months: A secondary data analysis of the standardization study of the Dominican system for evaluating early childhood development. Infant Behavior and Development. 2024 Apr 17;75:101950. doi: 10.1016/j.infbeh.2024.101950. PubMed PMID: 38636253.

Sánchez-Vincitore LV, Alonso Pellerano MA, Valdez ME, Jiménez AS, Ruiz-Matuk CB, Castro A, Díaz F, Cubilla-Bonnetier D, Validation of the Dominican system for measuring childhood development. F1000Research. 2024;12:279. doi: 10.12688/f1000research.128657.2. eCollection 2023. PubMed PMID: 38655207; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC11036040.

Sánchez-Vincitore LV, Castro A. The role of sociodemographic and psychosocial variables in early childhood development: A secondary data analysis of the 2014 and 2019 Multiple Indicator Cluster Surveys in the Dominican Republic. PLOS Glob Public Health. 2022 Jul 19; 2(7): e0000465. doi: 10.1371/journal.pgph.0000465.

Sánchez-Vincitore LV, Schaettle P, Castro AValidation of the Malawi Developmental Assessment Tool for children in the Dominican Republic: Preliminary results. PLoS One. 2019;14(8):e0221162. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0221162. eCollection 2019. PubMed PMID: 31415641.

Publications on health equity:

Preaux A, Castro A. Perspectives on intersectionality from public health and medical anthropology to promote health equity and reproductive justice. In Pamela L. Geller (ed.) The Routledge Handbook to Feminist Anthropology. New York: Routledge, 2024, chapter 26 (in press).

Sáenz R, Nigenda G, Gómez-Duarte I, Rojas K, Castro A, Serván-Mori E. Persistent inequities in maternal mortality in Latin America and the Caribbean, 1995-2019. Int J Equity Health. 2024 May 10;23(1):96. doi: 10.1186/s12939-024-02100-y. PubMed PMID: 38730305.

Goldstein S, Mabry RM, Friedman EA, Sales ALLF, Castro A. Achieving and maintaining equitable health outcomes for all, including for future generations. Int J Soc Determinants Health Health Serv. 2024 Jan;54(1):65-67. doi: 10.1177/27551938231214984. Epub 2023 Nov 14. PubMed PMID: 37964546.

Castro A, Marmot M, Garay J, de Negri A, Buss P, on behalf of the Sustainable Health Equity Movement. Achieving Sustainable Health Equity. Bulletin of the World Health Organization. 2022; 100(1):81-83; doi: 10.2471/BLT.21.286523; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC8722628.

Coates A, Castro A, Marmot M, Eijkemans G, Mújica OJ, Victora CG. Just societies: A new vision for health equity in the Americas after COVID-19. Rev Panam Salud Publica. 2020 October; 44(e137). doi: 10.26633/RPSP.2020; PMID: 33165389; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC7595005. [Coates A, Castro A, Marmot M, Mújica OJ, Eijkemans G, Victora CG. Sociedades justas: una nueva visión para la equidad en la salud en la Región de las Américas después de la COVID19. Rev Panam Salud Publica. 2020;44:e167. doi: 10.26633/RPSP.2020.167. eCollection 2020. PubMed PMID: 33337445; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC7737846.]

Castro A, Sáenz R, Avellaneda X, Cáceres C, Galvão L, Mas P, Ritterbusch AE, Urbina Fuentes M, The Health Equity Network of the Americas: Inclusion, commitment, and action, Rev Panam Salud Publica. 2021; 45:e79. doi: 10.26633/RPSP.2021.79. eCollection 2021. PubMed PMID: 34220991; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC8238255 [Castro A, Sáenz R, Avellaneda X, Cáceres C, Galvão L, Mas P, Ritterbusch AE, Urbina Fuentes M. La Red de las Américas para la Equidad en Salud: Inclusión, compromiso y acción. Rev Panam Salud Publica. 2020 October; 44 (e130). doi: 10.26633/RPSP.2020.130; PubMed PMID: 33165370; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC7595006.]

Castro A. Childhood asthma from a health equity perspective: The case of Latin America and the Caribbean. Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology 2019 Mar 6. pii: S1081-1206(19)30145-0. doi: 10.1016/j.anai.2019.02.029. PMID: 30851459

Rodríguez MR, Marmot MG, Salgado de Snyder VN, Galvão LAC, Avellaneda X, Sáenz MR, Dubois AM, Tarzibachi E, Ritterbusch AE, Castro A, Plough A, Heymann J. The transformative potential of strategic partnerships to form a Health Equity Network of the Americas. Ethn Dis. 2019;29(Suppl 1):153-158; doi:10.18865/ed.29.S1.153.

Castro A. Health and Inequality. in The International Encyclopedia of Anthropology, Callan H, editor. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley-Blackwell; 2018. 1-3p.

UNICEF - Tulane University. Health Equity Report 2016: Analysis of reproductive, maternal, newborn, child, and adolescent health inequities in Latin America and the Caribbean to inform policy making. UNICEF: Panama City, 2016, 145 pp (main author of report). [UNICEF - Universidad de Tulane. Informe sobre Equidad en Salud 2016: Un análisis de las inequidades en salud reproductiva, materna, neonatal, de la niñez y de la adolescencia en América Latina y el Caribe para guiar la formulación de políticas. Panama City: UNICEF, 2016, 146 pp (main author of report).]

Publications on global health and social medicine:

Castro A. Social medicine and the social sciences in Latin America: Conceptual tensions for the transformation of public health in the 20th century. Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Global Public Health.  2023 May, doi: 10.1093/acrefore/9780190632366.013.333. [Castro A. La medicina social y las ciencias sociales en América Latina: Tensiones conceptuales para la transformación de la salud pública en el siglo XX. Rev Panam Salud Publica. 2024;48:e56. doi: 10.26633/RPSP.2024.56. eCollection 2024. PubMed PMID: 38933473; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC11205259.]

#MeToo Meets Global Health: A call to action. A statement by participants of the Global Health Fieldwork Ethics Workshop, April 2018. Health and Human Rights. 2019; 21(1):133-139. PMID: 31239621.

Publications on the COVID-19 pandemic:

Villalobos Dintrans P, Maddaleno M, Granizo Román Y, Valenzuela Delpiano P, Castro A, *Vance C, et al. Interrupción de servicios de salud para embarazadas, recién nacidos, niños y niñas, adolescentes y mujeres durante la pandemia de COVID-19: proyecto ISLAC 2020 [Disruption of health services for pregnant women, newborns, children, adolescents, and women during the COVID-19 pandemic: ISLAC 2020 Project]. Rev Panam Salud Publica. 2021;45:e140. doi: 10.26633/RPSP.2021.140. eCollection 2021. PubMed PMID: 34737772; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC8559667.

Castro AMaternal and child mortality worsens in Latin America and the Caribbean. Lancet. 2020 Nov 14;396(10262):e85. doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(20)32142-5. Epub 2020 Oct 13. PubMed PMID: 33065031; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC7553735.

Castro AChallenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic in the health of women, children, and adolescents in Latin America and the Caribbean. New York: United Nations Development Program and UNICEF, COVID-19 Latin American and the Caribbean Policy Documents Series 19. September 2020. [Castro A, Desafíos de la pandemia de COVID-19 en la salud de la mujer, de la niñez y de la adolescencia en América Latina y el Caribe. New York: United Nations Development Program and UNICEF, COVID-19 Latin American and the Caribbean Policy Documents Series 19, September 2020.]


SPHU 2410 Health and Women’s Rights
LAST 6200 Health and Inequality in Latin America