Public health report calls for action on health inequalities faced by BAME residents
This year’s report from the Director of Public Health and Gloucestershire County Council’s Black Workers Network looks at the long-standing health inequalities faced by people of a Black, Asian and other minority ethnic (BAME) background in Gloucestershire and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown has affected everyone in profound ways this year but a disproportionate share of the burden has fallen on those who already experience health inequalities. Even after accounting for the effect of sex, age, deprivation and region, people of Bangladeshi ethnicity had around twice the risk of death than people of White British ethnicity during the first wave. People of Chinese, Indian, Pakistani, Other Asian, Caribbean and Other Black ethnicity had between 10% and 50% higher risk of death when compared to White British.
These differences are largely the result of long-standing structural racism which produces social and economic inequalities in the ways in which BAME people are educated, work and live. The strength of feeling demonstrated in the wake of George Floyd’s death shows the hurt felt by many in our county that these inequalities are not meaningfully addressed.
The pandemic has also highlighted the strength and resilience within our diverse communities. People have come together to donate and deliver food, check in on neighbours and collect their prescriptions. Working together in partnership, listening, and using these strengths will be key to tackling the systemic and structural issues this report highlights.
Sarah Scott, Director of Public Health at Gloucestershire County Council, commented: “It was an obvious choice to focus this year’s report on the impact of COVID-19 on BAME communities. Health inequalities are persistent, avoidable and unjust differences in health across and between different groups in a population. I hope this annual report prompts partners and organisations to think more about these inequalities, and particularly those affecting our BAME communities, and what they can do to address this.”
Althia Lyn, Co-Chair of the Black Workers Network at Gloucestershire County Council, commented: “This Black History Month is the time to open up conversations about race. These conversations are vitally important for us to have, no matter how uncomfortable, if we are serious about changing the lived experience of BAME people in Gloucestershire.”
The report draws on local and national data and showcases some of the excellent work by individuals and organisations that is already underway to tackle race-based health inequalities in Gloucestershire. It makes eight practical recommendations for partners across the system to ensure that recovery plans capitalise on this opportunity for sustainable change.