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Least amongst equals

Articles in the British Medical Journal this week share a theme of the unequable treatment of people from ethnic minority groups by medicine, in medicine and the wider world of the UK.

Laia Becares and James Nazroo point to a failure of research studies to include sufficient samples of older people from minority groups:

The self-reported Health Survey for England 2004 found that estimates of poor health amongst 61-70 year olds was twice as common (and more) amongst people from Bangladesh, Pakistan, India or the Caribbean in comparison to white English people of the same age. That was 34% for white English, 86% for Bangladeshi, 69% of Pakistani, 63% for Indian and 67% for black Caribbean.

They suggest that these difference come from lifetimes of disadvantage and deprivation, low paid and low skilled work, institutional and inter personal racism and discrimination.

They find that the three UK national longit

udinal birth cohort studies: The National Survey of Health and Development, The National Child Development Study and The 1970 British Cohort Study – all failed to include enough people from the minority groups to allow meaningful analysis of what happens and what might be done to improve matters.

These are salient reminders that when people are different – by age, class, gender, ethnicity, belief, education, language, accent or locality, we do not do well by them.

We do need the reminders. I would like to think that things have improved since 2004 – Could we find out?

It is not clear that the All Party Parliamentary Group for Longevity will give us answers.

But we will study it!

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