Study finds health inequalities widening for minorities after pandemic

A new study has found that the Covid-19 pandemic has widened existing health inequalities amongst ethnic minorities with diabetes.

The research was conducted by academics from the University of Leicester as well as researchers from the National Institute for Health and Care Research’s Applied Research Collaboration East Midlands (NIHR ARC East Midlands) division.

They investigated the larger structural obstacles that put ethnic minorities with diabetes at a bigger risk of more extreme Covid-19 outcomes.

The researchers discovered that the barriers for ethnic minorities include:

  • Neighbourhood resources
  • Employment opportunities
  • Housing
  • Food
  • Education

These structural hurdles are important factors that impact the health of people with diabetes or Covid-19 – especially those in high-risk ethnic minorities groups.

The report found that people from ethnic minority groups also experience more severe Covid-19 reactions due to their differences in co-morbid conditions, access to treatment and exposure risk.

Previous research papers have failed to consider these wider structural issues and researchers from the University of Leicester are now calling on healthcare services to address the disproportionate impact people from minority ethnic groups have experienced during the pandemic due to these health disparities.

Professor Kamlesh Khunti CBE, Director of NIHR ARC East Midlands and Professor of Primary Care Diabetes and Vascular Medicine at the University of Leicester, lead author of the review, said: “Diabetes is a risk factor for severe Covid-19, and the combination of these ethnic disparities may have contributed to the inequality of coronavirus outcomes for those living with the condition.

“As we now plan for recovery, improved surveillance, and risk factor management, it will be imperative that primary and specialist care services urgently focus on the disproportionate impact the pandemic has had on ethnic minority populations.”

“Only by taking a long-term, holistic view of health care will we, and particularly our most vulnerable populations, be able to cope better with future pandemics.”

NIHR ARC East Midlands is hosted by Nottinghamshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust and works in collaboration with the East Midlands Academic Health Science Network.

More information on the research is available here.

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