Britain’s plan to tackle maternal mortality rates for Black and ethnic minorities’ women

The UK government committed just yesterday that it will tackle disparities in maternal mortality rates, saying it was “completely unacceptable” that pregnancy and birth were riskier for women from ethnic minorities than for white women.

Specifically, Black British mothers are five times more likely than white mothers to die in pregnancy or within the first six weeks after childbirth.

Nonetheless, it has been estimated that maternal deaths in Britain occur in fewer than 1 in 10,000 pregnancies. From 2015 to 2017, 209 mothers died from pregnancy-related causes, out of more than 2.2 million women who gave birth in the United Kingdom.

Representative image. Image credit Dr. Robert R. Redfield @CDCDirector via Twitter

While overall maternal mortality rates had substantially fallen over the past decade, also thanks to the medicine and science’s signs of progress, yet, evidence highlighted the fact that there is a spreading gap between women from different ethnic backgrounds. Specifically, this is true for mothers of mixed ethnicity and for women of Asian ethnicity whose mortality rate for childbirth is twice as high compared to their counterparts when it comes to pregnancy-related issues.

British minister for Mental Health, Suicide Prevention and Patient Safety Nadine Dorries declared that “It’s completely unacceptable for women to experience a greater risk of poor outcomes during their pregnancy, or after giving birth because of the colour of their skin.”

Nonetheless, women from all ethnic minorities are also at greater risk than their white counterparts of their pregnancies resulting in preterm birth, stillbirth, neonatal death or a baby born with low birth weight.

Image credit University of Leeds

Minister for Equalities Kemi Badenoch met academics, public health experts and regional health service managers yesterday in order to draft a plan to understand what more can be done to reduce the widening disparities.

Meanwhile, London announced it had already taken steps to combat the issue, such as changing procedures to ensure greater continuity of care from a midwife for women from ethnic minorities during pregnancy, birth and the period after birth.

Unfortunately, the issue of health disparities between ethnic groups in the UK has escalated due to the coronavirus pandemic, highlighting, not to say confirming, a very scary racial inequality issue within the British society. And yet, the problem persists: according to a recent published governmental study, Black and Asian people in England are still up to 50% more likely to die after becoming infected with the virus. Why are we still at the same point?

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