The Suffolk Minority Ethnic Community Action Network seeks to bring together people from Black and Minority Ethnic Communities to develop solutions that reduce health inequalities affecting them.
Studies conducted in Suffolk show that people from the BME community feel they know too little about common health issues such as dementia, diabetes, sexual health, cancer or drug and alcohol misuse but more significantly, they don’t know what support is available or who to talk to about it.
Ethnic health inequalities
- Large-scale surveys like the Health Survey for England show that BME groups as a whole are more likely to report ill-health, and that ill-health among BME people starts at a younger age than in the White British. There is more variation in the rates of some diseases by ethnicity than by other socio-economic factors
- However, patterns of ethnic variation in health are extremely diverse, and inter-link with many overlapping factors:
- Some BME groups experience worse health than others. For example, surveys commonly show that Pakistani, Bangladeshi and Black-Caribbean people report the poorest health, with Indian, East African Asian and Black African people reporting the same health as White British, and Chinese people reporting better health.
- Patterns of ethnic inequalities in health vary from one health condition to the next. For example, BME groups tend to have higher rates of cardio-vascular disease than White British people, but lower rates of many cancers.
- Ethnic differences in health vary across age groups, so that the greatest variation by ethnicity is seen among the elderly.
- Ethnic differences in health vary between men and women, as well as between geographic areas.
- Ethnic differences in health may vary between generations. For example, in some BME groups, rates of ill-health are worse among those born in the UK than in first generation migrants.
Tackling ethnic health inequalities
The Acheson Independent Inquiry into Inequalities in Health Report, made three recommendations for reducing ethnic health inequalities. These were that:
- policies on reducing socio-economic inequalities should consider the needs of BME groups;
- services should be sensitive to the needs of BME groups and promote awareness of their health risks;
- the needs of BME groups should be specifically considered in planning and providing health care.
MECAN therefore facilitates projects aimed at building the capacity within Suffolk’s BME communities to understand, influence and improve their own health & well-being and support their representation on service planning forums.