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PHE releases new report on Covid-19’s disproportionate effect on BAME communities

Following Public Health England’s report on June 3rd which highlighted higher infection and mortality rates among BAME communities, PHE have now released a summary of stakeholder insights into the factors affecting these outcomes. The initial inquiry was criticised for including no recommendations for tackling the racial inequities observed. In addition to conducting a rapid review of the literature, 17 sessions were hosted involving over 4,000 people with a broad range of interests in BAME issues in order to better understand the determinants driving the differences. The report concludes that longstanding inequalities were exacerbated by Covid-19, with BAME communities more likely to be exposed to the virus due to factors such as occupation, population density, use of public transport and housing conditions, with fear, distrust and stigma then impacting on the progression of the disease. The report urges rapid and transformative change, and makes seven broad-stroke recommendations:

1) Mandate comprehensive and quality ethnicity data collection and recording

2) Support community participatory research, in which researchers and community stakeholders engage as equal partners in all steps of the research process

3) Improve access, experiences and outcomes of NHS, local government and integrated care systems commissioned services by BAME communities, for example by including regular equity audits

4) Accelerate the development of culturally competent occupational risk assessment tools to reduce the risk of employee’s exposure to Covid-19, especially for key workers

5) Fund, develop and implement culturally competent COVID-19 education and prevention campaigns

6) Accelerate efforts to target culturally competent health promotion and disease prevention programmes for non-communicable diseases, for example those that promote maintaining a healthy weight, physical activity, mental wellbeing and other lifestyle factors

7) Make sure that COVID-19 recovery strategies actively reduce inequalities caused by the wider determinants of health to create long term sustainable change.

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