Racism and discrimination could be contributing to a higher risk of death from the coronavirus among the UK’s BAME population, according to a leaked official report.
The draft document drawn up by Public Health England and seen by the BBC points to “historical racism and poorer experiences of healthcare or work” as a root cause of the uneven risks.
“The unequal impact of Covid-19 on Bame communities may be explained by a number of factors ranging from social and economic inequalities, racism, discrimination and stigma, occupational risk, inequalities in the prevalence of conditions that increase the severity of disease including obesity, diabetes, hypertension and asthma,” the document says.
The report says groups that were consulted in drawing it up expressed “deep dismay, anger, loss and fear in their communities” as evidence mounted that the virus was “exacerbating existing inequalities”.
The leak comes after the British Medical Association (BMA) wrote to the health secretary, Matt Hancock, to ask why a section with recommendations for safeguarding BAME communities was “omitted” from an earlier report.
The letter said: “The BMA called for this review and contributed our views to it, and we were extremely disappointed that the points raised in our submission were not addressed in the report published on 2 June.
“It now appears that pages addressing these and the contributions from other stakeholders may have been removed from the final report.”
The report recommends that health authorities bring in better data collection about ethnicity and religion, require health risk assessments for Bame workers, and increase diversity in the leadership of the health service.
It also says public health messaging should be culturally sensitive and that it should be designed to be properly understood by people who do not speak English as their first language.
Boris Johnson ‘must show leadership’ on inequality and racism
The Prime Minister was urged to show leadership in dealing with racism in the UK following a weekend of protests over the weekend.
Shadow home secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds told Sky News’ Sophy Ridge on Sunday show: “The Government needs to show leadership on the inequality and racism that still sadly exists in our country, and by that I mean the Prime Minister.
“The Prime Minister needs to come forward, show that he understands the hurt and the anguish of the stories that black people in our country have spoken about so movingly in recent weeks, and also to set out the concrete steps that his Government now intends to take to address that.”
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