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Lewisham launches ambitious research partnership to explore health inequalities

Today, a partnership between the Lewisham Council and Birmingham City Council has been announced as work begins on a ground breaking review to gather insights on health inequalities within Black African and Caribbean communities in Birmingham and Lewisham asking ‘how do we break the cycle of inequality?’

The Birmingham and Lewisham African & Caribbean Health Inequalities Review (BLACHIR) will use combined expertise for the review.

Over the next 18-months an external advisory board and academic board will be established, with the aim of representing a wide range of different aspects of the Black African and Black Caribbean communities in Lewisham, Birmingham and nationally.

Birmingham is home to 8% of the overall African and Caribbean population of England. In Lewisham, Black Africans and those of Caribbean descent represent the largest population groups, amongst those of BAME heritage.

National research shows their are significant health inequalities affecting Black African and Caribbean communities, which are perpetuated by inequalities in the wider determinants of health such as housing, employment and education. These have been exacerbated by Covid-19 and undoubtedly underpin some of the excess deaths in these populations.

The review will inform the work of the Health and Wellbeing Board partnership and influence both Councils, NHS, academic and community and voluntary sector partners to make sustainable changes that start to address decades of inequalities.

Mayor of Lewisham, Damien Egan said:

‘Learning lessons needs to start now. This is not just about the impact Coronavirus is having on BAME communities, but prompted by this current pandemic, we must seize the opportunity to drive an evidence-led approach on addressing health inequalities.

‘For some time now, we have been gathering insights into the health inequalities facing Black African and Caribbean communities in Lewisham to drive our public health plans. News of the coronavirus-related deaths of frontline workers from these communities is heart breaking and a stark reminder that we need to urgently address these health inequalities’.

Dr Catherine Mbema, Director of Public Health at Lewisham Council added:

“It’s a unique and ambitious initiative. Driven by local communities, overseen by local government with the academic focus, we are determined to ensure this review will point to clear solutions that we hope will inform decision-making within government.”

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