In recent weeks we have seen populations first in America, then across the world, come together to protest against the unacceptable injustices faced by minority ethnic groups - injustices which are still prevalent in today’s society.
The Faculty of Public Health (FPH) condemn those responsible for the death of George Floyd, and we condemn discrimination and violence in any shape or form. At this time it is important that communities are able to express their desire for change in a safe manner which respects the threat of COVID-19.
The Black Lives Matter movement reminds us that we cannot remain indifferent to societal injustices in any section of our population. We know that these injustices hold severe consequences for public health, and for people in these communities who are LGBT, have disabilities, or are old, the discrimination and the inequalities they face are compounded.
These societal injustices manifest adversely, not only on health outcomes, but through limited access to education, jobs, housing and other fundamental needs which we recognise as the wider determinants of health. FPH, through its members, stands at the forefront of challenging and addressing these injustices, and is committed to tackling the health inequalities prevalent in today’s society.
Not enough is being done to rectify the inequalities experienced by Britain’s minority ethnic population, as most recently demonstrated by PHE’s COVID-19 disparities review and stakeholder engagement. These inequalities are not new findings though, and we know that minority ethnic communities face inequalities in a plurality of areas as demonstrated by the Government’s 2018 Race Disparity Audit.
COVID-19 has once again shone a light on the decades of discrimination faced by these populations, and on the widening inequalities they face as a consequence. It is essential that steps are now taken to tackle these inequalities at their fundamental level, and that discussion turns to action. We must work together, with unceasing determination, to put an end to the injustices faced by Britain’s minority ethnic population.
We know that alongside higher morbidity and mortality, these groups are more likely to experience severe mental ill-health. The reaction we have seen from those protesting speaks to the psychological trauma experienced by communities living with the consequences of the systemic inequalities prevalent in today’s society. We recognise that many of our members, already facing pressure in tackling the current pandemic, will be distressed by these impacts on themselves, on their families and on their colleagues.
The Faculty of Public Health is committed to equality, diversity and inclusion, and to tackling any form of racism or violence. We are committed to minority ethnic representation at our senior leadership level and support our leaders in understanding the issues experienced by these communities.
FPH has a diverse and international membership, with over 400 of our Members based outside of the UK. Ensuring our entire membership has a voice and visibility in shaping and delivering the work of the Faculty is hugely important. Through our Special Interest Groups we seek to forge global links and communities of practice that allow our members to share resources to tackle inequalities. The Black Lives Matter movement is global and we will reach out to our international members in solidarity to address global inequity and racial discrimination.
We recognise that all organisations can do more to address these inequalities and to recognise, and put an end to, racism and discrimination of all types. FPH will soon be supporting an event focused on embedding anti-racism into our public health practice, organised by our Specialty Registrars. We will also be taking other actions to address these issues, including becoming a member of the Race Equality Charter, and call on our membership to do the same. FPH welcome blogs from our members on their personal experiences of racism and will set up a web page with relevant resources and links. We also welcome specific recommendations for addressing the excess risk from COVID-19 within minority ethnic groups.