The Covid-19 crisis has exposed the gross health inequalities that exist in our society. If we are to “build back better” so that everyone has a chance to thrive, we must deal with the root causes of this tragedy, writes NACCOM’s National Director, Renae Mann.
I want to talk about public health inequalities. The situation in the UK is grim. This week we reached an unimaginable milestone; 100,000 people have now died from Covid-19 in our country.
People from Black, Asian and minoritised backgrounds, including those from refugee communities, face disproportionate risk of both contracting and dying from the virus here due to multiple factors including insecure, poor quality housing, poorer health outcomes, and precarious employment.
Build Back Fairer: The COVID-19 Marmot Review, published last month, highlights that “England entered the pandemic already in a poor state of health.”(1) Whilst Covid-19 has exposed the severe and interlinking inequalities that exist in our society, these issues have been compounded over many years by poor decision-making and underfunding of public services, the impact being borne by the most vulnerable members of our society.
At NACCOM, our members are supporting people in the immigration system on a daily basis to cope with the anxiety and impact of the virus on their health and their ability to conclude their immigration journey and rebuild their lives.
Whilst a strategy is emerging to prevent further deaths amongst people at greatest risk of the virus (through vaccinations, limiting visitors to the UK, testing and ongoing restrictions), we are not yet dealing with the root causes of this tragedy.
The acute public health inequalities in the UK are due to decades of under-investment in public institutions like the NHS and wider healthcare, housing, education, social care, and in our civil society. These are the foundations of our society, the structures we all need to enable us to stay safe, warm, dry and clean, but also to learn, create and thrive. In essence, to have a fair and equal chance at leading a healthy, fulfilling life.
The Marmot Review’s urgent call to learn from this unprecedented tragedy and ‘Build Back Fairer’ through wholesale, long-term change could not be clearer.
This is the challenge of our lifetime. Without public health equality for all, we are simply resigning ourselves to the next crisis to hit the most vulnerable people in our society. Instead, let’s rebuild to enable us all to thrive.
Renae Mann, National Director, NACCOM
If you would like to contact NACCOM about this blog, please get in touch with Hannah Gurnham, Communications Coordinator.