Responding to health inequalities amongst South Asian communities

31 Jul 2023

We know that the chances of experiencing different diseases vary between ethnic groups. During South Asian Heritage Month (18 July-17 August) the NHS in south east London is highlighting health inequalities that affect people of South Asian background.

Infant and maternal mortality rates are higher amongst people from a South Asian heritage and they are also more likely than the general population to have cardiovascular disease.

People from South Asian heritage are also six times more likely to experience Type II diabetes than people from a white British background. The NHS in south east London is committed to reducing such health inequalities across our diverse population.

That’s why NHS South East London asked a social enterprise to work with people from diverse backgrounds to identify how we can make our diabetes and obesity services and education more accessible and culturally relevant. We wanted to understand what matters to people living with diabetes and those at risk of diabetes.

The outcomes included being able to discuss diabetes with people with lived experience of the condition and, where needed, culturally-relevant food and cooking advice. You can find out more about diabetes here.

Meanwhile, commissioners of health services for children and young people in Lewisham worked with Lewisham Maternity Voices Partnership and Lewisham and Greenwich NHS Trust to develop the Cultural Humility Quality Standard. This sets out six principles for good and safe maternity care from the perspectives of Lewisham women and birthing people of diverse cultural backgrounds.

It was designed to act as guidelines for professionals providing care for people throughout their maternity journey, and aims to increase the involvement of Black, Asian and minority ethnic service users in quality assuring the maternity service. A short film created to explain the Quality Standard is now used in mandatory training for all midwives across Lewisham and Greenwich NHS Trust.