The health of the individual fuels the health of society.
The impact of ethnicity and race on health inequality has long been recognised as a problem. Evidence prevails that those from a BAME background are more likely to experience poor health compared to the wider population (Barry and Yuill, 2011).
This is a complex issue but evidence continues to mount which shows that this is largely due to socioeconomic disparity, showing that this is a wider social problem which is complex and difficult to both assess and challenge.
Understanding good health and wellbeing
Good health and wellbeing provide the bedrock to an individual’s success across the complete spectrum of social issues. Health affects employment, opportunities, crime, the need for social support and more.
Health inequality is unacceptable. There is no good justification for it. It is avoidable. Yet, due to health inequality in the UK the life expectancy between the most and least deprived areas of England was 9.3 years for men and 7.3 years for women between 2014 and 2016.
Whilst it is understood that it is socioeconomic factors which create health inequality, we cannot avoid the issue of ethnicity and race. Higher levels of socioeconomic deprivation are linked to poorer outcomes in terms of health and care experiences. However, analysis shows that it is certain ethnic groups which are more likely to live in the areas of socioeconomic deprivation.
Indeed, over 50% of those forming the Bangladeshi and Pakistani group lived in the most deprived 20% of areas in 2011.
Why do we need to promote good health and wellbeing?
To tackle health inequality and to promote better health and wellbeing outcomes for those from BAME backgrounds, we must look at it within the context of wider socioeconomic disparity.
It is central to who we are as a civilised society that we take active steps to promote health and wellbeing for all. The consequences and benefits of this are far reaching.
It really is a matter of life and death and we need to prevent people dying or suffering ill health prematurely or unnecessarily. Through enhancements to health and wellbeing we also enhance an individual’s capacity for work and contribution to society.
Furthermore, there is the reality that prevention of poor health and an improvement in wellbeing is understood to be cheaper for society, specifically the NHS, than dealing with poor health itself.
It is also a matter of equal rights. The NHS Constitution states that:
“The NHS provides a comprehensive service, available to all irrespective of gender, race, disability, age, sexual orientation, religion or belief. It has a duty to each and every individual that it serves and must respect their human rights. At the same time, it has a wider social duty to promote equality through the services it provides and to pay particular attention to groups or sections of society where improvements in health and life expectancy are not keeping pace with the rest of the population.”
Improving equality for the individual will create lasting benefits to society and the health service as a whole.
The reality of health and wellbeing for BAME communities today
The stark reality is that the health gap in the UK is an issue of race too. We cannot hope to meet our objectives in other areas, such as improving outcomes for young BAME people, if we do not also address the issue of health and wellbeing within our minority communities.
The reality in Britain today is concerning:
• BAME groups are at higher risk of developing mental ill health .
• Between 1991 and 2011, Pakistani and Bangladeshi women had mortality rates which were 10% higher than those of white women. Black Caribbean men (as well as some other minority group males) had higher incidences of long-term illness .
• The life expectancy of people who are homeless and sleep on the streets is just 40.2 years . We know that a disproportionate number of homeless people come from a BAME background .
• Awareness of cancer is lower in BME groups. Uptake for health screening is generally lower. There are higher rates of come cancers in some minority groups .
• Additionally, BME patients rate their care experience during cancer treatment less positively .
The problems of health disparity are worrying. We need to work together to achieve better health outcomes for everyone, regardless of their race.
Our aims with our health and wellbeing programme centre on promotion of awareness as well as opening access to services.
We aim to tackle the issue of health disparity and how it predominantly affects BAME individuals through also addressing the relevant socioeconomic issues fuelling it.
We are seeking equality in health through tangible actions.
A core element of our work is to foster greater health and wellbeing across society as a whole through enabling those of a BAME background to access relevant services. We also promote awareness and challenge policies.
We undertake steps to:
• Address health inequality: We work within communities and with healthcare providers to raise awareness of health and wellbeing issues and their connection to those of a BAME background.
• Improve access: We work with individuals and communities to increase access to health services, including screening services and preventative measures. This includes signposting and giving advice.
• Provide training: We provide both advice and training to enable those within the BAME community to understand health and wellbeing and the options open to them. We offer training within the community. We have a comprehensive range of training available.
• Provide information: We recognise that accessing healthcare requires us to provide independent and confidential information and advice regarding a range of things including welfare rights and benefits, equality and human rights, housing, employment and legal issues.
We care passionately about promoting diversity, social integration, equality and inclusion within the health arena. Part of doing this is to fight institutionalised racism and discrimination whilst tackling the wider issues of poverty which are often at the root of health problems.
It’s time for change when it comes to the health and wellbeing of those in BAME groups. We are working with communities to see real change:
• Health not inequality: Our overriding success will be when those in BAME communities are living longer and healthier, on a par with the rest of wider society.
• Choices not restrictions: We hope to see individuals empowered to take steps to improve their own health and wellbeing, drawing on our advice, training and support.
• Awareness not lack of knowledge: Individuals will become more informed about health services and how they can access them.
• Equality not risk: Reductions in the socioeconomic disparity between social groups so that health outcomes are not determined by racial factors.
Diversity Living Services is accredited to UN in Special Consultative Status with Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC).
Diversity Living Services is a registered Company and Charity (England and Wales) Registered Company No: 4459816 * Registered Charity No: 1098916