In a double blow for members of the BAME community, Antibiotic Research UK is warning of a serious health inequality. Not only are they more likely to die from coronavirus than white people – but have an increased chance of succumbing to deadly superbugs, such as MRSA, too.
Examining data from the UK, USA and Europe, the good cause revealed that people of colour were more susceptible to antibiotic resistant infections.
They concluded that it was not race that dictated this division. Rather, it is poor and overcrowded living conditions, variable health provision, poorer diets, and a failure on behalf of the authorities to engage with BAME communities.
Their views are backed-up by a snapshot survey of people in predominantly Asian communities. This demonstrates a real fear of contracting illness despite residents taking the same precautions as the rest of the community and valiant attempts to keep fit. This study of 300 people also gave an insight into how BAME communities receive their communications. They also bemoaned a lack of exercise facilities and nutritional advice on food.
Antibiotic Research UK’s response
“Many of us are aware that the number of deaths from COVID-19 are disproportionate in BAME communities. An awful lot of conjecture and damaging rumour has been put forward as to why that has happened. As our analysis has showed, it is not genetics but rather health inequalities for BAME communities behind the difference. Ten million people per year are predicted to die from antibiotic-resistant infections by 2050. As the number of antibiotic-resistant infections continues to increase, we need to act now. Unless we do, resistance will become another pandemic that highlights the inequalities still present in our society.” Professor Colin Garner, Chief Executive of Antibiotic Research UK.
In a blog published on Antibiotic Research UK’s site, Professor Garner (1) highlights how non-white people in America were almost twice as likely to be resistant to antibiotics for gut complaints than their Caucasian counterparts. An examination of ethnically diverse in communities in London, also showed health inequities. BAME people suffering from an infection lining the stomach had 30% less chance of having it healed by antibiotics.
The South Asian study revealed that three quarters of people were either worried or terrified about catching a deadly infection. This was the case despite 94% of respondents adhering to basic hygiene guidelines. Just 27% checked the fat and calorie content of food but 85% did thirty minutes or more exercise per day.
Despite perceived guesses about how South Asian communities should receive health messages (and in what language), the survey actually showed that the community preferred its guidance from television news, friends, and family. Authorities were also failing to realise the impact of positive role models in promoting good health.
This story has been covered in the Yorkshire Post – 28 October 2020