Black and minority ethnic (BME) groups generally have worse health than the overall population. Such health inequalities are avoidable, unfair and systematic differences in health between different groups of people and patterns vary from one health condition to the next. By recognising the role that ethnicity plays in our society, we can have a bigger impact on supporting a healthier population in East Kent.
Canterbury and East Kent as a whole is a multicultural society with an increasing ethnic diversity. Ethnicity results from many aspects of difference which impact on a person’s identity and how they are seen by others. These include race, culture, religion and nationality.
Our health and wellbeing project aims to create an environment where BME individuals are able to take control of their own lives. This may mean taking different approaches for each community. For some communities it may be removing structural barriers to participation, for others it may be facilitating and developing capacity and capability through personal and community development. Community engagement and empowerment are therefore central to the efforts to reduce health inequalities within BME communities.
Research indicates that public health and healthcare commissioners in England often feel uncertain about engaging with ethnic inequality, as it is an issue that can be seen as contentious and complex. As a result, there is not enough action, particularly at a local level, of reducing ethnic inequalities in health.
Our work is even more significant, as the capacity and resources of local government have declined and the brunt of the funding cuts result in experiencing a rising need within our communities.
COVID-19 and BAME communities
Emerging evidence suggest that the Coronavirus is having a disproportionate impact on people from black, Asian and minority ethnic communities. UK hospitals are seeing black and Asian people with more severe illness than white people (14% of all serious illness).
A numbers of factors may be attributed to the high COVID-19 related deaths and severity of illness among BAME groups , these include underlying medical conditions such cardiovascular diseases, hypertension, heart attack, stroke, HIV, Sickle cell disease and obesity have been suggest as contributory factors to the severity of COVID-19 disease and related deaths among people from BAME groups. For example, BAME are 6 times more likely to develop type 2 diabetes then the general population. Black Africans are disproportionately affected by HIV making up 41% of new Heterosexual diagnoses in 2018 and many undiagnosed cases.
EMIC therefore has a role to play in working to mitigate the impact of the virus and to support the community to live healthily during this pandemic.
Domestic Abuse Forum
EMIC partnered with Kent Police to form a DA forum. Our overall aim is to build a network of community support for survivors of domestic abuse by increasing knowledge, skills and confidence around DA within the target communities
One of the priorities of the proposed Kent and Medway Domestic Abuse strategy is the promotion of a culture of prevention and early detection and EMIC aims to achieve this by raising awareness of the problem and skilling up community members to spot signs of DA and signpost to services for early intervention.
Although DA affects all women, BME women face additional barriers to receiving the help they need due to racism, pressure from extended families and the fear of rejection from own family and/or community. In particular, BAME women have more difficulty accessing information on domestic abuse.