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African frontline workers ‘must be heard’ in UK inquiry

A coalition of mainly African diaspora medics’ associations has said that a proposed public inquiry in the UK into the high number of deaths from coronavirus of people from black and minority ethnic (BAME) backgrounds must include the voices of frontline health workers.

 Railway worker Belly Mujinga, originally from the Democratic Republic of Congo, died from coronavirus after a man spat at her
Railway worker Belly Mujinga, originally from the Democratic Republic of Congo, died from coronavirus after a man spat at her

“With BAME more likely to be employed in less senior and lower paid roles as well as less likely to be listened to when they raise concerns, they are at a greater risk of exposure to Covid-19,” says the statement endorsed by the Sudanese Medical Association UK and Ireland, Tanzania UK Healthcare and Ghana Nurses Association UK, among others.

It comes in the week when news emerged of the death of railway worker Belly Mujinga, 47, originally from the Democratic Republic of Congo, after she was spat at by a man who said he had coronavirus.

Black men and women are nearly twice as likely to die with coronavirus as white people in England and Wales, according to the UK’s Office for National Statistics. Although the analysis doesn’t address the impact of exposure at work or current health conditions.

The medics’ coalition says that institutional racism has meant that risks to members of the BAME community are not included in health messages about coronavirus. It calls on the government to provide more targeted communications.

In March, Dr Amged El-Hawrani and Dr Adil El Tayar – two British-Sudanese doctors – became the first working medics to die of coronavirus in the UK. BBC News

 

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