‘To be black or brown is to see your body suffer’ | Angela Saini
From maternal mortality to access to pain relief, minority-ethnic groups have always suffered disproportionately. But now the data on Covid-19 deaths cannot be ignored
One of the last things I did before lockdown began was to speak at the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists at an event on race and maternal mortality. It has been known for a few years now that – incredibly – black women in the UK are five times more likely to die in pregnancy than white women, while Asian women are twice as likely to die. The atmosphere in the room was heavy with anger and disappointment. Black doctors, nurses and midwives were exasperated by the failure to protect women.
In the United States, too, black and Native American women suffer greater rates of maternal mortality than white women. This is just one of many examples of racial inequality in health. A US study found last year that black patients were 40% less likely than white patients to get the medication they needed to relieve acute pain. A UK study published in January showed that Asian patients with dementia were 14% less likely to be prescribed beneficial anti-dementia drugs than white patients were.