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Health inequalities higher in poor and minority ethnic groups, says report

30 October 2007

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Child mortality rates and the danger of heart disease and cancer are just some of the increased risks facing poorer families and minority ethnic groups, a leading health professor has revealed.

The Race Equality Foundation commissioned Professor Gurch Randhawa, Director of the Institute for Health Research at the University of Bedfordshire, to examine health inequalities in the UK and produce an action plan.

The publication, Tackling Health Inequalities for Minority Ethnic Groups: Challenges and Opportunities, reveals that that there is still a big difference in the level of health support available to black and minority ethnic groups, which has serious effects on general health and wellbeing.

The report highlights that the risk of infant mortality is twice as high in minority ethnic groups compared to the national average. Additionally, Bangladeshi men are four times more likely to be diagnosed with diabetes than men of other nationalities in the UK.

Plus, Indian, Pakistani and Bangladeshi communities are less likely than the general population to meet the physical activity recommendations of 30 minutes exercise every day.

Professor Randhawa said: “There are many underlying reasons for the disparity in the levels of health. These include access to good housing, education, discrimination, environment and lifestyle.

“The main reasons include a lack of access to facilities and a lack of understanding and opportunity to interact with the health service. The problems need to be tackled, not only at government level, but through the community and voluntary sector as well.”

Other findings include:

  • A greater likelihood of impaired development and chronic disease in poorer families.
  • Higher rates of cardiovascular disease and mental illness among certain minority ethnic groups.
  • Higher levels of obesity in Black African boys.
  • Longer waiting times for organ transplants among some minority groups.

The NHS has recently launched the Department of Health’s Race Equality Scheme – an initiative that tasks NHS organisations to do more to deliver services in a bid to meet the needs of black and minority ethnic groups.

Race Equality Foundation

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