Covid-19 is impacting on everyone, some more severely than others.  It has made us think about our immunity and mortality.  Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) is feeling the impact and I am pleased that an independent enquiry has been commissioned by the Government, which will hopefully shed some light on the situation for the general public.  Personally, I expect there will be few real surprises in this report.   It is already known that in London 67% of the adult social care workforce are from minority ethnic backgrounds.   It has already been reported by the BBC that people of ethnic minority backgrounds have higher incidents of cardiovascular disorders and diabetes which increases vulnerability to Covid-19.  The heavy presence of BAME as key front-line workers – public transport drivers, cleaners, carers, Band 5 nurses etc. operate around us every day, but are often unseen and/or taken for granted.  According to BBC reports, minority ethnic groups are systematically over-represented at the lower levels of the NHS grade hierarchy and under-represented in senior pay bands.   BAME are also more likely to be concentrated in poorer areas, live in overcrowded housing and in inter-generational households.  My local hospital Northwick Park Trust, has the second highest number of deaths from Covid-19 in England (April 2020).  Brent has the highest number of Covid-19 deaths in London, followed by my own area Harrow, then Ealing.  The Guardian reported that over three-quarters of BAME doctors fear they will contract Covid-19.   ONS analysis states that black men are 4.2 times more likely to die from Covid-19 than their white counterparts.   These serious concerns are occupying the minds of family and friends increasing worry and stress.  Whilst some of these challenges are structural and outside the range of individuals affected, some issues are very much within range, particularly those associated with health and well-being.

The NHS is fighting impressively against Covid-19 and will remain under stress for some time into the future.  As far as possible, I want to remain not being a burden on the NHS.  This requires taking personal responsibility and sustaining a strong focus on health and well-being.   Covid-19 was a wake-up call for some people who recognised that their lifestyle made them more vulnerable and at risk to the virus.  It is important to “stay woke” and consider what changes can be made at a personal level.

I personally recognise the importance of being fit and healthy more now than ever.  Our future could depend more on physical fitness and immunity, rather than personal wealth.  In fact, health is the new wealth.  It will be interesting to see what changes people make as we slowly establish a new normal.   Will dog walkers continue to dominate my local park, or will I see a more diverse group of people fighting for fitness…?

Covid-19 should have made us stop and think about what we could do differently to increase our chances of survival, including against future viruses. Even small changes, if sustained over time can make a big difference. After being locked down, are we eager to escape to hit pubs, bars and fast food joints or to adopt a healthier regime? If Covid-19 has not taught us more about valuing our health, I am not sure what will.

Blogger: Sonia Warner

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