A major report today reveals the complex and long-standing factors contributing to the disproportionate impact coronavirus is having on Wales’ black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) communities.
The report by the BAME Covid-19 expert advisory group, which was set up by First Minister Mark Drakeford, makes more than 30 recommendations to the Welsh Government to address the socio-economic and environmental risks it highlights.
The advisory group was set up to look at the reasons why people from BAME communities were more likely to be adversely affected by coronavirus. It is co-chaired by Judge Ray Singh and Dr Heather Payne and has two sub-groups – one of which has been tasked with examining the socio-economic factors.
Professor Emmanuel Ogbonna, who chaired the subgroup, said:
“There’s an overall theme running through our research for this report.
“It centres on long-standing racism and disadvantage and the lack of BAME representation within decision-making processes.
“The coronavirus pandemic is, in some respects, revealing the consequences of a lack of action on race equality.
“Many of the issues we’ve highlighted have been identified and discussed previously, but they haven’t been addressed in any systematic and sustained way.”
The report, which is published today, reveals a number of key socio-economic and environmental risk factors, including:
- Communication of health information, and how effective it is
- Cultural issues relating to the suitability of health and social services for BAME communities
- Income and employment insecurity, which is experienced disproportionately by BAME communities
- Poor quality of ethnicity data, which is preventing accurate analysis
- Housing overcrowding and environment
- The financial burden created by migration status
- The role of structural and systemic racism and disadvantage.
In his initial response to Professor Ogbonna’s report, First Minister Mark Drakeford, said:
“The advisory group was set up to investigate the range of socio-economic factors which are critical to health and social care outcomes for people from BAME backgrounds.
“I am very grateful to Professor Ogbonna and the members of the subgroup for their swift but detailed work and their recommendations.”
An analysis by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) of Covid-19 related deaths across England and Wales by ethnicity showed that people from a Black ethnic background are at a greater risk of death involving COVID-19 than all other ethnic groups. The risk for black males has been more than three times higher than white males and nearly two and a half times higher for black females than white.
Adjusting for socio-economic factors and geographical location partly explains the increased risk, but there remains twice the risk for Black males and around one and a half times for black females. Significant differences also remain for Bangladeshi, Pakistani and Indian men.
The First Minister launched an urgent investigation in April to understand the reasons for the higher risk of coronavirus among BAME communities.
The second BAME Covid-19 Advisory sub-group, chaired by Professor Keshav Singhal, developed a two-stage risk-assessment, which was launched in the Welsh NHS and social care last month. It is designed to help people assess their risk of coronavirus and, in consultation with their employers, take steps to reduce their potential exposure, which could mean increasing their use of PPE to a change of roles.