MORE than 50 actions have been pledged to help put an end to health inequalities across the region.
A recent report by the West Midlands Combined Authority in conjunction with public health officials, entitled ‘Health of the Region 2020: The regional health impact of Covid-19 on the West Midlands’, found there were entrenched health inequalities in the region, that had been both exposed and exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic.
People living in the WMCA region have a shorter life expectancy than England overall, and spend more of their lives in poor health.
The rate of premature deaths from preventable causes is higher than the national average, as is the rate of infant mortality. It is believed these correspond to higher rates of problem drinking, obesity (child and adult) and physical inactivity, as well as lower cancer screening.
Most areas in the WMCA region have a greater level of socioeconomic deprivation than the national average, with approximately a quarter of children living in low income households.
The highest rates of Covid-19 related deaths have come in more deprived areas, and neighbourhoods with a greater proportion of residents from Black, Asian, and Minority Ethnic (BAME) communities.
A recent PHE report found those in BAME groups were up to twice as likely to die from Covid-19 than those from the White British ethnic group.
In response to the report’s findings the WMCA, alongside other public sector organisations in the region, have pledged to take immediate action including:
The new multi-agency Midlands System Transformation Recovery Board to carry out an evaluation of regional NHS programmes, including examining inequalities and impacts of Covid-19 on BAME communities.
WMCA to develop a targeted Thrive mental health programme co-designed with BAME employees and employers.
WMCA to provide training and support to health care professionals so they can refer disabled residents to physical activity as part of the IncludeMe initiative.
Coventry University and University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire (UHCW) making plans to develop a community diagnostics centre in the city centre that would improve access to health facilities for the local community.
WMCA to work with partners to become a Marmot City-Region and develop a three year action plan to reduce health inequalities.
The 50 plus actions were agreed at the WMCA’s board meeting last Friday, November 13.
West Midlands Mayor Andy Street said: “There is a clear, long-standing issue with health inequalities in the region that must be addressed, and I am pleased that the WMCA is taking immediate action alongside other public sector organisations to begin to rectify this.”
Click here to read the full report.